Men's Journal

How Not to Screw Up the Week Before Your Marathon

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There aren’t many pops of adrenaline like the one you get after realizing both your alarms failed to ring the morning of a marathon. Your eyes peek open, you notice the LED lights creeping toward a time long after the one you wanted to see, you hop out of bed, and the morning starts with a slurry of expletives.

Last April, two hours before the Big Sur International Marathon, this is how my morning began. I didn’t have time to fully slip on shoes as I sprinted out the hotel door in the pre-dawn darkness. I made the bus to the starting line with one minute to spare, totally unsure if I had packed both running shoes in my bag. I was flustered with a hummingbird heart rate. This, all coaches agree, is about the worst way to begin marathon morning.

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Sometimes, it doesn’t matter if you’ve spent almost four months training—sacrificing Friday nights for Saturday morning long runs, testing fueling strategies that won’t piss off your GI tract, wearing in the perfect pair of shoes. In the week leading up to the race, there is not much you can do to get fitter. There are, however, several things you can do to screw up race day. Here, running coach and founder of StrengthRunning.com, Jason Fitzgerald, tells you what you should and should not do the seven days before the starting gun goes off.