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Chicago Marathon Tip 3 of 5: Staging Area and Start

Posted Oct 06 2010 8:29am

Here are some tips for you to think about this week regarding the staging and start of the marathon:

1. Chicago in October anything goes for weather. There have been record colds and record warms…so prepare for both. If its cold, buy some cheap sweats at the dollar stores in your area or other discount stores. Cut a slit on the ankle for easy on/off over sneakers. Layer your tops if its really chilly, especially a tight, form-fitting underlayer. You will be outside awhile. Make sure to have running gloves and ear protection (hat/headband). These are all easy to peel off.

Bottom line: if you are cold standing idle you will not have a good start, can make injury more likely, and won’t have fond memories! Don’t be afraid to discard clothes as you go. Most marathons sweep up the clothes and give them to goodwill. So really, you are just doing your part!

2. Keep in mind that weather forecasts change. If you are flying to Chicago, the temp could still vary 20-30 degrees from the forecast 3-4 days out! Last time I did Chicago it was supposed to be 50 and overcast. I didn’t bring sunglasses to the start. It was 75 and sunny. Bad day. Bring everything to the start. Whatever you don’t need that morning can be checked in your dry clothes bag.

3. Keep your muscles warm. Some folks go for a jog to loosen up. If you are a fast runner and looking for a PR, this is for you. If you aren’t going for a sub-3, you still need to get the blood moving so consider doing this along with your normal stretching routine.

If you are not in one of A-D corrals and have been assigned to the Open corral you will feel like cattle being led to the slaughter house- do some squats and lunges easy and with a big range of motion. Alternate that with some stretches to the major muscle groups…your hamstrings, quads and calves. Jog in place, lift your knees high or kick them back to hit your butt.

Doing so will not only warm the muscles to prepare them better but it will lubricate the joints. Keep moving as you mooooo!

4. The beginning of the race is quite packed; specifically if you are in the Open corral. You will find your mile splits are slow, especially if you are in the average pacing groups (8:30-10:30). You will have to let this slide and let your body warm up. If you worry about this and get nervous, you are likely to start weaving in and out of runners, running on sidewalks and curbs…you will expend too much negative energy and stress up front and will leave yourself in an energy deficit for later. Bank the energy and use it later.

5. There are pace groups you can use to help you achieve your goals. Be cautious. Use your heartrate and perceived exertion as a guide. Don’t keep up if you can’t. Same goes for running with a friend or training partner.

6. Be sure to write your emergency contact info on your bib. Its a whole lot harder to find your family should the unthinkable happen and you get hurt of can’t continue. Its no fun to get stuck at the 24-mile marker medical tent!

7. Visualize crossing the finish. Studies show you are more likely to reach a goal if it has been visualized repeatedly. Just ask Tiger Woods, a big fan. Just don’t ask him exactly what he was visualizing!

- Marisa

(Marisa, a MS PT SCS ATC, writes for iRunnerBlog’s Runner Therapy, is a physical therapist in private practice in midtown NYC.  She one of a dozen or so therapists  in the state of NY to be board certified in sports.)

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