Mark Cucuzzella MD, Professor West Virginia University School of Medicine, LtCol US Air Force
2006 and 2011 Air Force Marathon Champion and Air Force Marathon Team Member since 1988
Now a few extra ways to get from start to finish quicker on the same gallon.
- If you can add a little gas along the way then you can go more into gas mode. This works a little at best. If running too fast you shunt all blood to working muscles and nothing digests. If you are in hybrid the early going you can continually add fuel- the key is not only the correct fuel, but the right pace. A Powergel every 25 minutes is easy to digest and tops off the tank. Carry them with you at the start. The weight is nothing compared to the benefit you will get. If you do the gels then you can drink water instead of the energy drinks which are often less predictable on the run. Boston has a Powergel station at Mile 17. Carry 4 at the start (one every 4 miles or so) and reload at mile 17.
- Maintain effort on uphills. Your pace will slow. You can easily use all your gas here if your effort increases. Shorten your stride, relax, and use your arms. Then allow gravity to take you down. Do not over reach and heel hit on the down hills- remember run over the ground not into the ground. If it is windy get behind a group. This can save lots of physical and mental energy.
- If you are having a “bad patch” – try to refocus on relaxing, fuel a bit (sometimes a blood glucose drop triggers the sense of doom), and have faith in your training and race plan. Another nice trick is when you hit mile 21 it is not 5 miles to go, it is 4 and change. Mile 22 is 3 and change to go.
- Do not over drink water. This can lead to a dangerous condition called hypontremia.
The fun of the marathon is that we are always learning and enjoying the adventure of it. I’ve done over 70 marathons now with a couple under 2:25 in my younger years. We learn from experience, taking chances, and occasional failures. My first marathon was the 1988 Marine Corps was 2:34, when I could run about 30 minutes for 10 k. 24 years later I hope to get near this time again and my current 10k is about 35 minutes (2011 Boston was 2:37.00). I’ve learned a few things in 20 plus years on how to train and race efficiently and economically, but still there are uncertainties every time you line up. So relax, taper up, and seize the day.
I’d like to especially thank all the Armed Forces Members around the world who sacrifice daily in the service of their country and for all the volunteers who make the Boston Marathon a Patriot’s Day celebration. May the wind be at your back, like 2011!