Advice to Kristen (We Got Your Back)

distance runner, coaching, marathoner

Advice to Kristen (We Got Your Back).

“It’s not a question of whether you will hurt, or of how much you will hurt; it’s a question of what you will do, and how well you will do it, while pain has her wanton way with you.”

-Daniel James Brown

This week Pace & Mind runners came together to support a fellow team mate, Kristen Bowers, as she prepares for her first marathon. The team has run thousands of training kilometres, participated in a plethora of races of all distances and so, they have some ‘street sense and cred’ when it comes to distance running.  It all started with a question: 

distance runner, coaching, marathoner

Marathoner preparing for her first marathon.

Kristen: “5.5 days til my first marathon! Any advice for the week or the race/pacing etc?

MM: Good luck Kristen, I think you’re going to do so well, you have such a strong core, which in my opinion, really helps in the final km’s.

BT: I wouldn’t recommend running a marathon, I think Coach would agree it’s generally a stupid idea. 🙂

Kristen: Well most people I talk to seem to think it’s a pretty dumb idea.

KY: I wrote this quick list for marathoners to be last year for the for the #STWM blog. Read here.

ST: My advise is: sleep a lot! Eat healthy food. And race day: drop the hammer! Good luck Kristen! You will do great.

SM: Drink a ton of water all week.

AY: Marathons can get pretty nutty and intense. Have a safe word: “keep going.”

KB: Don’t overtrain because you feel like you’re doing “nothing.” This goes with don’t try anything new. So noextra cross training or weight training! You need to feel fresh at the start line!

ST: Yes AY! Whatever happens do not stop. Especially after the 32k mark! If you need to slow down, do it, but never ever think of stopping.

KB: Agreed with ST and AY. As soon as you start walking it throws off your mental game. It’s very hard to dig deep after that. Your head will tell you to stop but your body is capable of so much more than you think!!

MA: The best I can give is…”it will pass.” IF you start to feel bad…don’t worry, that feeling will pass. When you are feeling good early in the race…don’t carried away and pick-up the pace because it too will pass!

PS: I can attest to the stopping thing. It’s been a difficult road for me lately, mentally, to now get back to where I run continuously. Once I stop in races, like MA said, it’s more and more difficult to dig deep.

WT: Yup. I always remember that stopping for a break doesn’t make things easier, even if my brain wants to trick me into thinking so. Stopping just extends the suffering/ No one wants that. When the race gets really, really hard, I repeat in my head, “This is what I came for.” This is what we trained for.” Good luck!

PS: A good mantra helps! “embrace the suck” helps me at times when things are, um, you know…sucking. Lol!

MO: This may sound crazy but stay in the moment and enjoy every minute of it.

KB: Yes Michael! Don’t forget to enjoy it. The training is the hardest part.

Kristen: Well the training is done and the race has a net elevation loss so it’s all downhill from here! I need to find a mantra…

AY: That IS crazy Michael. Enjoy the  race AFTER…When you’re done (and have stopped bleeding).

PS: MO’s been reading “The Power of Now??” Ha Ha. (There is no conflict in The Now…except for the nips on the shirt!).

KB: I enjoyed every minute of the Blue Mountain half-marathon and did surprisingly well so maybe there is some merit to what Michael is saying, lol. I can’t imagine enjoying anything after 32 km. But as long as my legs still work I have something to celebrate each step I guess!!

MO: It was an emotional experience when I ran my first one. Still is really. I remember passing 21.1 for the first time and thinking holy shit I’m actually running a marathon. It’s a huge accomplishment. It’s great to be able to remember all of it. Also I find if I start to look too far ahead in the race it feels much harder. Concentrate on where you are at the moment and the k’s will fly by faster.

MO: Interesting article and something to remember at kilometre 36. Read here.

PS: Great article Michael. I crumble way too quickly at pain! I know a lot of it is mental garbage, that wanting to get out of comfort zone. Thanks for this.

MO: A related question is: how much is fatigue mental?

AY: I get tired thinking about it.

Kristen: Good question: Some of it must be. Like if in a work a night shift I might be up for 25 or 26 hours before I get to bed but if my patient is really critically ill I don’t feel tired and can go all night and be alert and do my job well. As soon as I stop though I pass out. lol

Coach: The best example to show this think about how your perceived effort changes in a race when you pass a group of friends cheering you…it doesn’t matter what part of the reace we always to to perk up, find that bounce in our step and pick it up.

CD: I wish I had enough friends to line 42.2 km.

KB: Probably part of why having a pacer helps. It’s your personal cheer section for the whole race.

PS: I ran faster when there are wasps nearby. I’ll join the cheerleaders for ya Christa!

Kristen: Do you take gel at the start of a marathon?

MA: I actually do take one maybe 15 minutes before the start.

KB: So if I take one to start and one every 45 minutes that would be 5. Ok.

AY: 1 gel about 15 mins before…Then 1 every 7 k (until I can’t take no more).

KB: Every 7! That’s pretty frequent

AY: Helps to have a little breakfast before…A couple hours ahead of the race. Nothing huge. Maybe a bagel with some peanut butter and a banana.

As you can see, we have a dynamic motley crew of runners which  have a lot of common and ‘not so’ common sense.  If I may add Kristen, the best advice I’ve heard in preparation for a marathon and half-marathon came from Coach in advance of the 2014 #STWM:

“No regrets. You want to look back on your marathon with no regrets. This is what you’ve trained for. Trust in your training.”

Trust in your training. You are the sky, the rest is just weather.

Community Dude

About Pace & Mind

Pace & Mind is an advanced coaching service for distance runners. We offer advanced and highly customized 5k, 10k, half-marathon and marathon coaching for runners to improve their performance both on and off the road. Our coaching is based on the principles founded by Head Coach and Co-founder Rejean Chiasson, a Canadian marathon champion, 4x half-marathon medalist and NIKE+ NRC Coach. He is supported by our Online Run Coach, Kate Van Buskirk, an internationally accomplished track and field athlete, bronze medalist at the 2014 Commonwealth Games and Brooks Elite Ambassador. Unlike traditional ‘cookie-cutter’ or ‘clinic’ approaches to coaching, our Coaches first assesses, then customizes each runner’s training program based on:


Coaching programs are powered by TrainingPeaks software to ensure data accuracy. No runner’s program is the same and it constantly changes season by season, cycle by cycle. Our Coaches review your plan in detail each week, then adjust based on your progression and listens to you in terms of changes in nutrition, mental state and cross training efforts. Each runner also receives a cross-training plan and a racing singlet as part of the program.

You have one life to live. Run for your life

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