Posted by: David Stewart | December 3, 2009

20 More Things to Obsess About

I try not to let my obsessive tendencies take over. But darn it, with my 16th marathon coming up in three days, the first with my new coach, I have more than the usual list of things to dwell on morosely. And now that I’m in the terrible taper, it’s a grand time to fixate.

  • Running Form – When a runner gets exhausted, their form breaks down. Ironically, it takes more energy to run with poor form, so good form = less energy used.
  • Good posture – is my Dad reading this? He has complained about my posture for my entire life, and now I realize how right he is! Good posture leads to good running form. Remember: my Dad saying, “walk a-proud, son”.
  • Caloric intake rate – I need to take in about 150 calories per hour during the race. I will burn more calories of course, but I shouldn’t be burning more sugars than this. My coach has changed the timing of when I take them in although not the quantity. Remember: new timing for taking Gu
  • Hydration intake rate – New guidance for me is to take in 24 ounces per hour of fluid. I can’t possibly carry this much with me for 3+ hours of running, but I will carry maybe half of that, the rest will be from aid stations on the course. Remember: Drink enough
  • Hydration timing – there are 18 aid stations for the 26.2 miles of the California International Marathon. This means that they don’t come along at every mile, and the distribution is uneven (they come closer together towards the end of the race). How do I time drinking from aid stations versus drinking from my own stash?
  • Drink Mixing – I carry Accelerade and the race will have Ultima Replenisher available on the course. These are completely different drinks – Accelerade has 80 calories per 8 ounce with a 4:1 carbohydrate to protein ratio and Ultima has only 10 calories per 8 ounces. Both taste pretty nasty, and totally different from each other. I will have to mix the two during the race, so it’s something to obsess over. Remember: don’t biff with different fluids
  • Electrolytes – although the fluids I will be drinking have salts and potassium, I like to take a salt tablet (Enduralytes) about once per hour to prevent cramping. The coach thinks I could down a couple and be fine. Remember: my salt tabs
  • The Weather – “everyone complains about the weather but nobody does anything about it.” Current forecasts call for partly cloudy and 38 degrees at the start. The rain earlier predicted is likely to wait until Monday. But what about wind?
  • Pants – I intend to wear a couple of items I picked up at the recent Portland Marathon expo. One of them is a pair of shorts with special back pockets for gels (in fluorescent green). I wore these for my 20 mile training run, so they should be fine, though the pockets interfere a little with my Amphipod belt.
  • Shirt – I plan to wear a technical fabric short-sleeved shirt – black for heat retension, with flames in the armpits. (This is kind of a good-luck shirt for me). Because the temps will be a little cool at the start, I plan to wear the other Portland expo new item: black arm warmers from Pearl Izumi. Remember: Don’t freeze
  • Socks – will be my usual Injinji toe socks. Not too much to obsess about, other than forgetting them.
  • Shoes – My usual Mizuno Wave Inspire shoes seem to be showing some tread wear, but they seem to be working fine, just filthy still from running Hood to Coast.
  • Pre-run Warm-up – my coach has fully programmed the 20 minutes before the race start gun, down to the minute. Remember: Everything I need to do before the gun
  • Race pace – I have done enough race-pace miles that I should be able to be OK here. But too often, I tend to do my race-pace miles too fast. If I run an intelligent race, I should be OK. But too often in the last 15 marathons, I have failed to keep my pace under control and gotten into trouble. Remember: don’t run too fast.
  • Heart rate – although I want to meet my race time goals, I have advice to watch the heart rate for the first couple of miles to make sure I don’t get into oxygen debt. Remember: Don’t go crazy fast at the start
  • Having a “Plan B” – if the race doesn’t go as planned, how do I react to stay on track? Will I have enough presence of mind to know how many minutes I can add or subtract from my pace to hit my goals? Remember: Don’t charge after the pace group.
  • Breakfast – Although I plan to eat exactly the same breakfast I normally eat, this will be at 4:00AM, and the race starts three hours later, at 7:00AM. Should I bring along a snack to snarf down before the gun?
  • Pre-race dinner – I’ll be downing a carb-rich dinner on Saturday night at around 5:00PM. But since it will be at a local restaurant, there is always the chance that the kitchen staff will not follow cleanliness rules and I will wind up on the pot. Not a good outcome. Unless I buy my own dinner and microwave it in my room, I don’t think I can do anything about this. Remember: Don’t get sick
  • Pre-race fuel triggering – I have been following the advice of some elites to do my carb loading only on the day before the race. Start the morning with 2 to 3 minutes of all-out running, which should make my body want to acquire carbs.
  • How many carbs? – I read recently the advice that a 170 pound person should take in 850 grams of carbohydrates on the day before the race, representing 90% of calories for the day. Interesting, but I’m not exactly how much food this is, so I need to do some more obsessing planning.
  • My spiritual state – am I at peace? Do I sense God’s pleasure when I run? Or am I so stressed about things to stress about that I miss out on the great blessing of running even one 26.2 mile race, much less one which could qualify me for Boston?
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