I got asked that question several times on Sunday. A very good question, and here are my answers.
- Take it easy! Run/walk only a few miles a day at an easy pace, a few times this week, and no more than a mile on Saturday, or not at all. Your body worked hard for the last 5 months. It needs time to recover and rebuild so you can be in peak condition and well rested on Sunday.
- Get warm clothes. Whether you are starting at Dodger Stadium or the halfway point, you’ll be out there for at least an hour before the start time. The forecast as I’m writing this is for high 40s at sunrise for you Dodger Stadium folks, and probably low to mid 50s for those starting in Hollywood. I strongly encourage you to head to the BTS Thrift Store to purchase some “throw-away” clothes or a blanket.
- Go to bed earlier. The wake-up time for those starting at Dodger Stadium is 4:00 am. If you can go to bed earlier and wake up earlier a few days before the Marathon, that 4:00 am wake-up time will be easier to deal with.
- Drink extra water on Saturday: A few extra glasses of water on Saturday will ensure that you are well hydrated at the start.
- Get Ready to Party! Yes, you will be running/walking through what will feel like the biggest party you’ve ever been to. There will be music, crowds, energy, excitement, and more. You worked hard. You earned it. Get psyched to enjoy every minute of it. You will be creating memories that will last a lifetime and continue to inspire you.
A few weeks ago, I shared your responses to the prompts on the poster boards set you for you at end of your run. I put those poster boards out there again today during the team breakfast and got even more awesome input. You wrote from the heart. Your words not only inspire each other on this year’s team, they will inspire many others when I share them with the teams that will come after you. My sincere thanks to each of you for being there for each other, and for paying it forward.
The new comments from today’s breakfast are below.
What Being Part of this Team Means to Me:
- Community, love and support! -Jillian C
- It propelled me and kept me going when I would want to stop. I felt accountable. -Dana
- This gave me a chance to get out of my comfort zone, both physically and emotionally. Getting to know more residents and sharing stories with them was especially meaningful and the support and encouragement they gave me moved me beyond words. -Elizabeth
- It means that the team is with me when extra challenges are present. The team helps me to be motivated to be healthier. -Ali Mazhin
- I got to walk with Elizabeth, Dana, Misty and Amy! Thanks for the opportunity to be a part of the team. -Sally
Training for the Marathon Taught Me:
- Self accomplishment -Justina
- To keep going and hold on even when I don’t want to. -Jillian
- Consistency & commitment to something greater than myself. -Anonymous
- How to be a better runner, and extra confidence in my abilities to run faster. Also, it helped me meet fine people that are motivated to run as a team. -Ali Mazhin
- I can do things I’m afraid of doing. -Dana
Because you are now all experienced runners and walkers, you now have a tool that you can use as often as you want to lift your mood, reduce stress, improve your sleep, facilitate moving meditation, sharpen your thinking, clear your mind, and so much more, all while enjoying the beauty of the world around you. That tool is regular exercise performed in a setting that inspires you. And that’s what we’re going to focus on during the next two weeks.
You know the course. You know you can go the distance. Your bodies are ready. It’s time now to reflect on how you can optimize the mental, emotional, and spiritual aspects of regular exercise by making the experience as enjoyable as possible.
We’re going to support that goal during the next two Sundays by taking you to new places, each with its own natural beauty. Next Sunday, we’ll do our entire 12 miles along the beach between Playa Del Rey and Manhattan Beach. You’ll have the opportunity to enjoy the ocean breezes, listen to the surf, and maybe even spot a few dolphins. The following Sunday, we’ll head for the hills and the woods, as we enjoy the trail around the Hollywood Reservoir. You’ll be able to listen to the birds and the sounds of rustling leaves, breathe in the smells of the forest, and savor the peacefulness of the setting.
Not only will you all have the opportunity to enjoy nature, and celebrate your new level of fitness, you’ll be creating an experience for yourself that is clinically proven to reduce the risk of relapse.
How awesome is all that?!
The Marathon is just 4 weeks away! You’ve worked hard. You are mentally and physically ready; and now it’s time to polish your training rituals to do your best on Marathon Day. The best way to do that is to reflect on what you’ve learned about your body along this journey, and to refine your plans accordingly. Keeping in mind that Marathon weekend is NOT the time to try something new, here are some questions you need to ask yourself. If your answers to any of the questions below is “no”, you’ve got four weeks (including 3 group Sunday runs) to make the necessary adjustments. If you need guidance in any of these areas, feel free to talk to me or Anna.
1) Am I pain-free? If yes, awesome! If not, please see Dr. Hannan ASAP, and follow his advice about stretching and strengthening.
2) Do I have the right clothing and gear? If you are not chafing anywhere, haven’t gotten blisters, and are happy with how you are carrying your phone (if you choose to do so), you’re good. If you have discomfort, start trying new clothing and gear until it feels right.
3) Am I pacing myself appropriately? If you’re getting to the end of the long runs/walks thinking “I feel great, and yes, I could go a few more miles”, you’re good. If not, experiment with either slowing down your overall pace, or mixing in more walking with your running. One approach is to try walking for the first minute of each mile, then going back to your normal pace.
4) Am I eating the right pre-run dinner and breakfast? If you’re still feeling strong after 6-8 miles, the answer is probably yes. If you’re starting to feel like you’re running out of energy at that point, try the following 3 changes: eat more carbs and less fat and protein for dinner the night before; eat more “good carbs” (oatmeal, whole wheat bread, pancakes, cereal, etc.) for breakfast at least 30 minutes before you start; and drink lots of water with dinner and breakfast.
5) Am I feeling as strong for the last few miles as I did for the first few? If yes, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, try drinking and eating more at the rest stops and/or along the way. Today, as I was approaching the full marathon turnaround, I confess that I was thinking about how lousy I felt, how slow I was going, and that I should just quit when I got back to the first water stop and get a ride back to BTS for the last 5 miles. But, I had lots of water at that turnaround point, and had a GU at mile 10 and again at mile 14. Within minutes of leaving that turnaround point, I was so full of energy that I surprised myself by how much faster I was able to run and how good I felt for the second half of the route. Proper hydration and nutrition really works.
As I mentioned in last week’s Coaches Corner, during our training on January 28, everyone was given the opportunity to write their thoughts on one or both of the posters, each one with a different prompt: “What being part of the Marathon Team means to me” and “Training for the Marathon taught me”. Last week, I shared the responses to the first prompt, and now I’m sharing the responses on the second poster. I hope you are all as inspired by each other as I am by each of you.
I’m stronger than I thought.
I can achieve my goals no matter how ridiculous
That the impossible is possible, and I don’t know the meaning of giving up.
To get out of bed even when I don’t want to
To set goals and finish them. A goal is a dream with a deadline. Now I’m living my dream.
No matter how much it hurts, keep pushing forward to accomplish my goals and commitments!
Feels so good! Baby steps at first.
Consistency and commitment to something greater than myself
Commitment, passion, determination, persistence
That this isn’t going to be easy and that life isn’t always going to be easy either. Sometimes you have to push through the tough times and stay on the right path. You’ll eventually get to your destination.
Everyone who attended the training on Sunday was giving the opportunity to write their thoughts on one or both of the posters, each one with a different prompt: “What being part of the Marathon Team means to me” and “Training for the Marathon taught me…”. This week, I’ll be sharing the responses to the first prompt, and you’ll see the responses to the second prompt in next week’s Coaches Corner. These words brought tears to my eyes, and I hope they touch you just as much, if not more.
Community and support. Thanks everyone.
Being on this team gives me a sense of community and hope for the future.
That sometimes we carry others and other times we are carried. Sometimes we need to be loved when we can’t love ourselves, and love others when they feel vulnerable. We go through the season and need each other.
Accountability to others as well as myself
That I’m no longer alone. I have support in something greater than myself. I’ve always wanted to do a marathon. It’s a milestone I longed for. Now I can make that happen with the love and support of this team. Thank you for letting me be a part of something greater than myself.
Thanks to each of you for taking the time to share your thoughts and to inspire each of us. If you weren’t there and would like to share your thoughts, I encourage you to add a comment to our Facebook group.
It’s easy to be positive and agreeable when everything goes as planned, but what shows real character is how you respond when faced with tough challenges or the unexpected. I saw lots of examples of people choosing to “do the next right thing”. Let’s celebrate each of those folks:
Returning runners: Quite a few folks who haven’t been at training for the last few weeks for various reasons showed up today. You had fallen off the “Marathon Team wagon” but you jumped back on with enthusiasm. Your presence strengthens the spirit of our team, and it shows you that you have the power to get back on track to continue progressing toward your goals.
Amy, our newest team member: Having walked 4.5 miles for her first Sunday, and then walked a few more days last week, Amy’s knees told her she’d over trained. Instead of using the pain as a reason to sleep in this morning, she showed up to volunteer at the water stop.
Lauren: After the long drive to our starting point, Lauren decided she “just wasn’t feeling it” and was going to do her long run on another day. She could have taken the van back to the House with Anna, but instead she chose to stay with Amy at the water stop.
Elizabeth: None of her usual walking buddies were here this morning. Faced with the prospect of a 3+ hour walk back to BTS by herself, she could have said “Never mind” and gone back home. But she didn’t. She got out there and started walking anyway, completing the entire distance.
Full Marathoners: Realizing that due to the complete standstill on the 101, it would be a long time to get to our intended start, they quickly and happily agreed to a “Plan B”. We all got out of the van earlier than initially planned, and did the last 10 miles of our 14 mile route.
Ali: Determined to get in the full 14 miles, Ali got back to BTS and ran another 4 miles. Let’s wish him the best next Sunday when he does the Surf City Marathon.
Anna and Amy: Our van drivers faced road closures, multiple traffic lights, and heavy traffic on the 101; and the time devoted to driving turned out to be much more than planned. They didn’t complain, and instead, they cheerfully got everyone to where they needed to go.
Thanks to everyone today for making choices that built to the team spirit, and showed your determination to “go the extra mile” for your recovery.
How many of you, when asked what you’d like to do on your second date, answer “Let’s go for a 12 mile run at 7am on a Sunday”?! That was Justina’s response. One of the new faces on Sunday was Daniel, Justina’s date, and even though he hadn’t run that long of a distance before, he agreed to give it a try. They both finished looking happy. Let’s hope he comes back again. Thanks Justina for spreading the word and inviting someone new to join our community.
I hope he felt the power of our team spirit, and that he had as positive of an experience as I had on my first day back in 2012. I joined the team back then, not knowing anything about Beit T’Shuvah, because I thought running my first marathon in support of a Jewish cause would keep me motivated. Who knew it would change my life?
I was so warmly welcomed by the team, and so inspired by the many success stories I heard as people shared where they were then vs. where they had been before coming to Beit T’Shuvah, that when I was asked to coach the following year, I eagerly accepted.
The spirit of this team is amazing, and I thank each of you for making that happen.
Jacqueline shared an inspiring story with me that I’d like to pass along. She described a typical day, while still actively using, sitting on the side of the road watching runners go by. She wondered if she’d ever be “normal” like them, and if she could ever do something like that. Back in those days, she thought of herself as someone who couldn’t finish anything she started, someone who couldn’t achieve a goal. Not any more!
Now she’s someone who ran 10 miles, a distance most “normal” runners don’t achieve. She’s someone who can achieve a seemingly impossible goal, and is ready for even more challenging goals. As she described it to me, “Running changed the way I think of myself. It changed my identity!”
How has running changed your self image?!