5 things that can go wrong during a marathon

You lose your mind (and heart)

Everyone is telling these days that running is an experience you can share with others, how it’s great to run with others, how others can help you etc. I’m sure it’s true for some of us, I myself have been always a lone runner (sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song but it’s less fancy) so I can’t tell. What I know for sure is that in the end running a race is between you, your legs and a finish line, don’t let anyone convince you otherwise. So if you lose it during the race other can cheer you up but it’s your responsibility to get it together. How? Try to think how awesome it will be to finish, how much you want it. Try thinking about something unrelated to running. Try to smile. I know, it sounds stupid but it works. Your brain doesn’t’ know the fake smile from the real one so it sends all the good chemicals to your body no matter what. So smile, if it really won’t help (and I assure you it will) at least you’ll look good on photos.

Shit show.

It might not get so dramatic but intestinal issues can sometimes finish your race. How to prevent it? If you have a history of IG issues during the race analyze what went wrong. On my last race it went soo wrong because it was super hot and I took some energy/electrolyte drink at a race food point. Lesson learnt: don’t drink something that you haven’t used before or take it with a glass of water afterwards. If, nevertheless, you feel like your intestine is not having the best day, try to limit the damage: slow down, look for a potty, drink water or eat banana (sometimes helps). If you run in the cold weather cover your stomach before the race (two layers of clothes might do the trick).

Wordrobe malfunction or dressing not accordingly to the weather.

You probably know you should rehearse that, right? The clothes for the marathon should be comfortable and perfect for the weather conditions and you should wear them especially during your long runs. That’s the best way to know if you’re clothes are really comfortable, even the softest tshirt can become a nightmare after 13 miles, you’ll never know if you haven’t tried! Still it can happen that something goes wrong. What to do? First: prevention. Put vaseline where you could have chafing, you know best, probably arms and legs, maybe your feet as well? But if your running clothes are too much (hot weather) or not enough (too cold) you have two options: dress down which is taking away some of your clothes (up to you if throw them away or tuck in your waistline) or power through. Cause when you’re cold you could of course speed up but are you able to sustain the pace? If so, go for it, if not, maybe there are some hot beverages on the food stations?

Injury

I assume you wouldn’t start a race with an injury (of course we’re all in this so we know that we would definitely go for a race with an injury). But sometimes, just sometimes it happens that in the middle of the race something starts to hurt and I’m not talking about sore muscles. It happened to me more than once: throbbing knee from the 10th km in Athens marathon and something that felt like shin splints during my Venice marathon. I’m not going to suggest to power through because sometimes it can be serious. In my case it wasn’t, I was lucky but I had my doubts in case of Venice marathon, it was my first marathon after a stress fracture so you can imagine how I was freaking out. At the end I decided to finish the race and it’s still my PB to this day but I wasn’t sure it was a good decision until the pain went away. Like a week after a marathon. I was lucky but don’t push your luck if you feel like something is not right, PB is awesome but not always you’re running for it and months without running afterwards suck.

Mother nature can be a bitch

..and there’s nothig you can do about it #spoileralert

How you can limit the damage? Training. I’m not convincing you to look out for storm and hail when planning your workouts but sometimes you have to do what you have to do. Meaning going out for a long run even if it’s raining or snowing. If you can do the same run later, sure , go for it. But if you can’t go anyway, rarely a race will be postponed because of rain. Training for a marathon is getting used to being unconfortable

The common thread of all those tragedies is being mentally prepared without obsessing about it. Anything can happen, it can change your result but most probably your reaction to the unexpected will matter the most.

What is the worst thing that happened to you during a race?

What’s your limit during a race, what you wouldn’t do to finish it?


A year in a runner’s calendar

You know that I’m a runner so when I think about my calendar my mind often goes automatically to races, preparation. Still, when I think of these events they’re not the most important ones. They are part of my framework and discipline. Yes, I’m boring, thank you for noticing.

Spring

I’m supposed to be ready for a spring marathon because I’ve been training hard in the winter. Well, I always run but the extra weight I carry on after xmas is not helping as well as all the layers of clothes I wear until it’s boiling hot outside. Yes, I’m one of those people you see running in old fashioned tracksuits trying to sweat the fat out. The only difference is that I’m genuinely cold when I start running that’s why I dress like a moron.

Usually my spring marathon is a bit of a failure because I train during cold months and spring starts a day before my marathon. That’s Murphy’s law for runners and it never fails.

Summer

I finally switch to shorts and I develop a runner’s tan that means I have white feet and torso and a garmin white stripe on my wrist. I’ve already gave up on having a real even tan, there are worse things.

I suffer a lot running in the hot weather but I love hot weather so I suck it up but for the first two months of summer I can’t believe I’m slower because of the heat, I’m convinced it’s me losing my fitness. Once I get that it’s the weather the summer is over. Damn.

Autumn

Probably the best moments to run: colors, temperature, the smell of falling leaves. All the summer training is paying off, the running is easier and more often than not the fall marathon is amazing.

Winter

Not my favourite time for running: I hate cold, snow and dark and wither gives me all of that and more. Like flu and nonsense sales. I lose my mojo for everything and my favourite activity in winter is sleeping and staying warm. Maybe I’m a bear? That would explain everything.

Anyway, I’m cranky and almost always injured in winter but I overcompensate by signing up for a lots of spring and summer races. It’s easy to imagine yourself running all those kms while sitting under a blanket drinking tea. I’m still running, training, dreaming of spring.

What’s yours running/training year? Any patterns?

Anything different this year? New race or routine?


Pre race stress

Weeks of preparation (or not), looking forward to the date that seemed so distant and here it is.

Only few days to your (or mine) race day and you start to go mad…

Ok, I exaggerate a bit but we all know that taper week and pre race madness is real!

Stress is your friend

Just like with training:a good amount of stress help you grow as an athlete. When it’s too much you get injured.

A mental stress gives you the right amount of adrenaline kick and keeps you going like a Duracell rabbit. When it’s too much you lose all your special powers. So get the best from stress but don’t overdo it.You know, like with coffee.

Pre-race stress is understandable and quite normal. All those months come to one day, a final exam. Some of us prepare diligently with great or less great results, others are less fortunate and can’t prepare or refuse to go by the plan. Either way you can’t really do much in the last few days. Try not to waste everything by eating poorly or not sleeping or running all the miles. Apart from that: relax.

Doubts

Am I ready? Will I be ready? Have I done everything right? Would would Jesus do?

The answer is one:you can never be sure and it really doesn’t matter. Sometimes I think people ask the wrong questions or even waste time asking questions at all. We ask questions about the past: how we could have done better training, prepare better and they are valid questions before preparing for the next race, project etc.

Analyzing is good, dwelling on what’s been already done is not.

Doubts are normal thing because few of us have the certainty to be flawless. What you can do is to switch doubts, that uncertain state of things into excitement. If you think of it they are quite close to each other. Race is this d-day when you’re not sure what’s going to happen but it can be super fun and amazing. Usually it is. Unless you have diarrhea. Then it’s not that amazing. #notapersonalstory

What would Meb do?

I have no idea, I haven’t read his book (yet) but I heard he thought of dropping out of each marathon he did. Which makes him a drama queen. C-Mon Meb, you got this! Every single time!

What you can do and what I do the days before the race is rest, hydrate, do yoga, take care of my nutrition. Basically what I should do normally but I’m too lazy.

I try to take a special care of myself, treat myself better. I mask, do my nails, visualize what I will do after the race #celebrate

Do you go mad before the race?

What’s your strategy for pre race madness?

Do you have a pre race ritual?

not ready yet!

Another week flew by and I have to say I don’t feel any more prepared to the marathon than I was before. It’s going to be my 15th marathon (I think, I lost count) and I still find myself thinking: am I able to run a marathon? I guess you’re always a beginner at running because you have to reset so many times. Running after injury, running in winter, running in summer, it all makes me feel new to it.

So far I’m still struggling to get faster, those intervals ain’t getting any easier. I’d like to speed up and run a half before april’s marathon. Turin, Verona, Lago Maggiore?