• Q & A with Mark Remy of Runner’s World

    October 28, 2011

    Last week, Runner’s World offered me the opportunity to do special Q & A on my blog with one of their editors on a topic of my choice. With the New York City Marathon right around the corner (in just 8 days!), I jumped at the chance to ask some questions about what to do the week before the marathon in order to run the best race possible.

    Below are my questions with responses from Mark Remy, a blogger, author, and executive editor for RunnersWorld.com. Mark has been a runner for 16 years and has run 21 marathons (including six Boston Marathons) with a PR of 2:46. He’s also the author of The Runner’s Rule Book and The Runner’s Field Manual.

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    What should I eat the week of the marathon? How much of my diet should be carbs?

    When you’re one week out from a marathon, this is easy: You should be eating, more or less, what you’ve been eating all along during your training. Just less of it, since you’re tapering and running less. (Or should be.) Don’t worry too much about percentages of carbs, etc. in your diet at this stage. Again, your best bet in the week leading up to a race is to keep your diet consistent, predictable, and safe. Boring, even. Just focus on getting a nice, healthy blend of grains, fruits and veggies, lean protein, and some fats. Which is what you’ve been doing all along… Right?

    What are some examples of healthy carbs that I should eat?

    Before a race, really, just about any easily digestible carb is a good carb: oatmeal, bagels, rice, pasta, bananas.

    Don’t go overboard, though. Too many runners think carbo-loading = carbo-gorging. No! You can’t race well if you’re too bloated with rice and pasta to fit into your running gear. Coincidentally, we just did a great article about carbo-loading, including some sample menus, here:
    http://www.runnersworld.com/article/0,7120,s6-242-301–14076-0,00.html

    Honestly — and this might sound like heresy coming from a Runner’s World editor — I tend not to fret too much about my diet, especially in the days leading up to a race. Mostly I eat what I crave, within reason. The day before I ran my fastest marathon ever (2:46), I ate most of a bag of potato chips. Maybe my body was demanding salt? Whatever it was, it worked.

    One final note: There’s nothing magical about pasta. If that’s what you’re craving the night before your marathon, great, knock yourself out. But don’t feel obligated to have spaghetti. As I say in The Runner’s Rule Book, “It’s just flour and water, folks.”

    What should my workouts look like this week? Is there any type of workout that I should avoid?

    Running-wise, you have just two goals this week: 1. Rest; and 2. Don’t get hurt.

    Right now, you are as fit as you’re going to be. So long runs or hard workouts would be worse than useless – they could actually sabotage your race. Instead, run a few miles on a few days. Feel free to throw in some “strides” here and there, picking up the pace to around race pace for 100 meters or so, fast but not sprinting. This is a nice way to burn off steam and keep your legs feeling sharp, without tiring you out.

    Personally, I like to take a “zero” two days out from a race, and then run a few miles VERY easy the day before. Again, just to loosen up the legs and burn off some nervous energy. This is especially nice if I’ve traveled for the race and my legs are feeling stiff.

    Mentally, how I should prepare for race day?

    As hokey as it sounds, I’m a big believer in visualization – mentally rehearsing your race and picturing yourself running well. See yourself starting slow, hitting your splits, finishing strong.

    Also, think about all of the training you’ve logged to get to this point. If you have a training log, spend some time reviewing it, remembering all those miles and all those workouts. Tell yourself that you’re ready. Because you are!

    At the same time, I’m also a big believer in not dwelling on things. So be sure to carve out some time in these final days prerace to have fun and enjoy yourself. Buy a book you’ve been dying to read. Do dinner and a movie with friends. Nap. Remember, again, that the training is done. This week is a time to relax and recover – not just physically, but mentally and emotionally.

    What’s your best advice to calm pre-race jitters? I know I’m going to have trouble sleeping the night before the marathon!

    This is so common. And it’s a healthy reaction, by the way. I always tell people, “If you weren’t nervous the day before a race, I’d be nervous.”

    My advice here is twofold:

    1. Remind yourself that preprace jitters are totally normal. Everyone has them. And I mean everyone. All you can do is acknowledge them, remind yourself again of the hundreds of miles you’ve run to prepare for this, and move on.

    2. Expect not to sleep the night before your race, or not to sleep very well, and be OK with that. Much more important is the sleep you get the night BEFORE the night before the race, and perhaps the night before that. If you’re reasonably well rested when you wake up Saturday morning, even if you toss and turn that night, you will be golden for a Sunday morning race. I guarantee it.

    The funny part is, once you get good at accepting this and expecting not to sleep well the night before your race… You often wind up sleeping well the night before your race. Go figure.

    Thank you, Mark and Runner’s World, for coordinating this Q&A. It was so helpful to me. Mark’s replies to my questions definitely make me feel a lot more confident and even more excited for November 6th.

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    { 25 comments… read them below or add one }

    Katie @ Peace Love and Oats October 28, 2011 at 12:41 pm

    Ahhhh this is making me excited for you!!! And definitely making me want to run the Chicago marathon next year! Haha but I’ll do a half first… baby steps.

    Reply

    Annette @ EnjoyYourHealthyLife October 28, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    VERY cool. I love his approach—very wise, with some scientific reasoning, and personal experience. SOOO excited for you! You’ll totally rock it, Tina :)

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    lisa @ eary morning run October 28, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    I love Mark Remy’s book’s and posts. So cool that you got to interview him. I’m officially jealous. Good luck next Sunday; you’ll do great!

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    Stef @ Living HI October 28, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Great post! I know that I get anxious about not getting enough sleep the night before. It is reassuring to hear that it will not negatively impact performance, should enough sleep be “banked” the days before.

    I’m excited for you Tina! I have to wait until December for my marathon, I’m sure you’ll do great.

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    Sweet and Savvy October 28, 2011 at 12:53 pm

    Awesome interview! Really interesting info! Love the part about carb loading is not going overboard!

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    Hope October 28, 2011 at 12:56 pm

    That is awesome that you were able to interview Mark Remy! I’m so excited for you! I’m sure you are going to do amazing! :)

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    Kate October 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Mark Remy is awesome! The Runners Rule Book is hands-down my favorite running book because it reminds me not to take myself and my running too seriously. And now, whenever I see my dog running across the backyard, I think to myself, “I’m runningrunningrunningrunning.”

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    Cara @ EAT.PRAY.RUN. October 28, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Loved reading this…and I feel like this is just piggybacking on the latest edition of runner’s world! Thanks for interviewing and sharing with us, Tina!

    Enjoy your weekend!

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    khushboo October 28, 2011 at 1:03 pm

    I like that bit about pasta- so true! There is no magical quality about pasta except that it taste great…and if you dont agree, find an alternative!

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    Cat @Breakfast to Bed October 28, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    funny, I always crave oatmeal and pasta. I’m SET!! Also, I like running an easy 3 the day before, it helps me focus.

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    Lynda Healthy Hoboken Girl October 28, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Great questions, Tina!! I’m so excited for the NYC marathon…and I’m not even running.

    You’re going to do great…can’t wait to hear all about it!!

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    Emily October 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Great interview. Thanks for all the info!

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    Joelle (On A Pink Typewriter) October 28, 2011 at 1:36 pm

    Ah , love Runner’s World!! Even though I’ve temporarily broken up w running, I still anxiously await my next issue of RW making it to my mailbox!

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    Gina @ Running to the Kitchen October 28, 2011 at 1:45 pm

    Great questions and answers! I like how he kind of dismisses pasta. If one more person asks me if I carbo-loaded the night before a long run or the race, I might lose it!

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    Becca @ Smile, Run & Eat...A LOT October 28, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    This is great! Thank you!!!

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    Kathleen October 28, 2011 at 2:13 pm

    OMG I love Mark Remy’s Daily blog/post on the Runner’s World site…he’s too funny! I’m def jealous you got to interview him!

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    Susan October 28, 2011 at 2:48 pm

    Glad to see so many others that love Mark Remy. His daily posts are hysterical. Especially the ones about his race face.

    And yay for taper/getting ready to race! Hope you are feeling good and ready to rock it!

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    kathleen @ the daily crumb October 28, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    very interesting! thanks, tina.

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    Andrea (Run. Learn. Repeat.) October 28, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    Great post and perfect timing for my race tomorrow morning! Have fun in New York! That is so exciting!

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    Hilary October 28, 2011 at 7:23 pm

    All great tips and info…thanks for sharing!

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    Maria @ Beautiful Busy Bee October 28, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    Thanks for the tips!! Most of the races I run are long distance track races (800m and 1600m) and 2-mile and 5ks, but these tips are actually what work for me!! I follow the “night before the night before” rule and always make sure to sleep a ton Thursday night for a Saturday morning race! :)

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    Kristin @ STUFT Mama October 28, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Yaya! Thanks for sharing. This totally makes me excited for you and your race and my own race in a couple of weeks. :)
    Funny that he ate a bag of potato chips before his fastest time. I always get super nervous about what I eat before a race.
    I need to do more visualization………
    So cool that you got to interview him. :)

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    Christine @ Burning It Off October 29, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Great Q&A! The part about sleep is so true… often, the biggest obstacle to me falling asleep is feeling worried that I’m not going to sleep.

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    Luv What You Do October 29, 2011 at 9:45 am

    That was great! Espec for a newbie marathoner like myself.
    What a fabulous opportunity! Wish I had it before the Chicago race, but will keep all of that in mind before my next marathon.

    Reply

    Kim November 2, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    Great interview! I always worry about not getting enough sleep too, and the more I worry about it the harder it is to fall asleep. It’s good to know that night before the race sleep isn’t that important.

    Reply

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