All I can say is I am 43 years old and probably in the best shape of my life. I rocked 26.2 miles and got a ton of love from spectators, family, friends, and other runners. I spend countless hours along the most beautiful river in northern California, which I otherwise might have wasted online staring at a computer or worse. And I have a huge sense of accomplishment which carries over to confidence I have in everything I do. Now if that’s ‘crazy’ – please – make me insane!
I try and keep things simple or minimalist: no watch, no headphones, no camelbacks while running. Garmin makes watches which track your pace and heartbeat and distance and many runners have them, but you don’t need them if you’re concerned only with having fun and finishing, not with racing. It’s all up to you. A flipbelt will hold up to 10 GU gels around your waist, which is all the energy you need for 26.2! You can keep stuff in a wristband, too, including S-caps and even powdered supplement mix or gatorade in a plastic baggie for when you find a water fountain. I used GU Roctane during the marathon, which has sodium, caffeine, and extra amino acids. I also took S-Caps (salt and potassium pills) to keep safe from dehydration. My method was 1 GU every 40 minutes, 1 S-Cap every hour, for 5 hours. Just before my long runs, I drank a bottle of water mixed with Apex pre-workout mix (1 scoop) and Old School’s ‘Vintage Blast’ pre-workout (1 scoop) in lieu of GU. During the marathon I drank water and/or gatorade/nuun at every aid station, approx every 3 miles. When training on your own, you must find water fountains or hide a water bottle ahead of time, if you do not carry water. Don’t go more than 6 miles without fluids! Bananas and oranges were offered along the CIM course and I always took them.
Your energy level will go in waves! When tired, shorten your stride and ease back on your pace. When energized, I say go for it and pick up the pace. Listen to your body. If you suffer runner’s knee or other joint pain: KT-Tape is the bomb! Use it. Carry it. Negative splits are better than positive splits! Meaning run the first half slower than the second. I hit a wall hard after running 10min miles for the first half of my first race, which was a 20 miler one month before the marathon. My natural pace is 11 min/mile, but I had a lot of adrenaline and was pushing hard. I learned quickly the dangers of the positive split. My legs were so tired by mile 16 I could hardly continue on. But experiencing this wall over the next 4 miles was probably good for me, because I learned how to run on tired legs and finish.
You can discover your pace by knowing your distance and time, checking the clock before you set out and after you return. Just subtract any time you took for water/bathroom breaks. You can easily map out your route distance beforehand by going to google maps, right clicking your mouse and selecting ‘measure distance’. Then you divide your total minutes ran by total distance ran, to get your pace. It’s that simple. I found that I consistently ran a natural pace and could chip away at it on shorter runs.