>4/1/14: Tip of the Week - The Known and the Known Unknown

by staff contributor Dan Soleau


In an earlier tip we discussed how you can use your Long Runs as dress rehearsals for race day.  Your nutrition plan should be in place and well practiced, your race day clothing options should be more dialed in, solutions for things like chafing and blisters should be tried and true at this point.


I cannot stress this enough:  Don’t do anything new on Race Day.  If this is your first marathon, you may have friends and acquaintances dropping “helpful” tips on things you should do: Put Vaseline on your feet!  Take GU!  Drink Gatorade!  Put powder in your socks!  Wear a water belt!  Eat a bagel before the race!  Drink coffee!  Run with a GoPro!  Run in these socks!  Take salt tablets!


If you haven’t done any of these things before, DON’T do them on race day.


Control the “Known”


You want the marathon to go as smoothly as possible, which means making sure you’re not adding any new unknown elements.  You should be wearing clothes that you’ve done long runs in to make sure they’re comfortable and, you’re reducing your risk for chafing.  Only use nutrition solutions you’ve tried in the past to reduce potential for GI issues.  Make sure you’ve been using any accessories – water belts, storage belts, etc – on your long runs so you know how they feel and how to use them effectively.  Even something as simple as socks – you don’t want to use a brand new pair straight out of the package, just in case there’s an irregularity in the stitching that might cause chafing or a blister.


Your shoes should be new, but not brand new.  They will ideally have about 30 miles on them prior to race day to make sure any irregularities in the stitching, adhesives, and materials are worn smooth.


Understand the “Known Unknown”


If your long run prior to the marathon was only 22 miles, then the last 4.2 miles is a “Known Unknown”.  Weather is a “Known Unknown”.  These are things you can’t predict, you can’t control, but you can be reasonably prepared for.  Make a list of Known Unknowns and think about how your training has helped ready you to face them.  You’re better prepared than you might think.  Training this winter has been particularly brutal, but has helped get you ready to understand what wardrobe options you will need depending on what the weather is like on Marathon Monday.  Long runs have provided the conditioning for your muscles, and your nutrition plan will help you to maintain your energy.