By Michael Crawley
Four weeks out.
When you decided to run this marathon it was months away. Then suddenly it was weeks. Soon it will be days, then hours.
It’s starting to feel pretty real, isn’t it?
You still have – just – more training days left than you will have miles to run on race day.
It’s time to make the most of them.
How to do this will depend on how well your training has gone so far and how you’re feeling.
If you’re feeling good, now is the time to push on and make the most of the next two weeks. You’ll probably be thinking about the last couple of long runs you need to do before you start to taper for the race. I try to do a my last really long run three or four weeks before a marathon. In the build-up to Manchester in 2015 I ran 28 miles at an easy pace three weeks before the race, for psychological more than physiological reasons. I wanted to be confident that I could cover the distance, and to go into the unknown as well prepared as I could. You want to have run far enough in training that the distance feels conquerable: the exact distance is up to you.
Now is also the time to make decisions about what to wear and what to use for energy during the race. I made the mistake of running in new shoes as recently as last October, when I had to drop out of the Great Scottish run with a sock full of blood. On race day you want your shoes to feel well worn-in, but not so well worn that they’ve lost their spring. You want to wear kit that will stay comfortable for a long time. Try to use your last couple of long runs to practice with whatever gels, energy drinks or jelly babies you want to use in the race. Everyone is different here, so experiment with a few different options. Ron Hill himself was content with ‘half a spoonful of salt mixed with cordial’ beforehand and nothing during the race. That worked for him, but he was a bit unusual, so get your stomach used to digesting whatever it is your using.
Four weeks will pass very quickly. Most of the training is done and dusted, in the diary, on Strava, in the past. Time for a couple more weeks of hard work and then a nice taper before race day.
Michael Crawley is one of our sponsored athletes, and focuses primarily on the roads. He is also an ESRC-funded PhD student at Edinburgh University, studying the culture of long-distance running in Ethiopia.