May 22, 2009

What Not To Do Before the Marathon

Despite my recent weight loss, I’m not very strict about my diet… until two days before a marathon. With 16 marathons under my belt, I’ve had my share of unfortunate incidents like begging for a spectator to let me in their house to use the bathroom when I did my second marathon. I’ve since learned a lot about how to fuel and not to fuel for a race. This week, as part of Runners’ Lounge’s Take it and Run Thursday, I’ll be sharing my “Eat This, Not That” list of what to eat and what not to eat in the days before a race.

1. Everyone knows carb loading is a good thing. However, don’t take the “loading” part of that too seriously. Sure, a marathon is a long race, but you’d be surprised how quickly you can eat back those calories! On a normal day, I eat very few “processed” carbs (pasta, bread, etc) – I get most of my daily carbs from fruits and vegetables. Therefore, to carb up, it doesn’t take too many processed carbs to get my energy stores up and myself ready to race. Instead of looking at pre-race meals as a chance to stuff my face with bread and pasta, I now try to eat regular portioned healthy meals while making sure they include bread or pasta.

2. Dairy is the devil. One day before a marathon, I avoid it like the plague, even going far enough to use non-dairy creamer in my morning coffee. Not drinking milk is hard, but going through an airport without ice cream/fro yo is harder, and if I’m eating out, trying to find processed carbs without cheese is the hardest. I’ve learned that if I take Immodium, I can have just a teeny bit of cheese without problems, but I try to avoid it anyway just in case.

3. The other food devil for me before a marathon is any type of sweet baked good – these I avoid for two days prior. Free brownies in the office break room? Not for me. Cookies on the plane? No, thanks – I’ll stash them in my bag for after the race. Baked goods cause the same problems for me as dairy, but fortunately, they are much easier avoided.


The list was going to go on from here, and the plan was to finish it last night to post. However, last night started a whole second chain of events for what not to do two nights before the marathon. Namely, it’s probably a bad idea for your boyfriend to vanish into thin air when he says he’s on his way over at 9 PM, prompting 80+ phone calls to his cell phone (which he was not answering) from me and another 100 or so from various friends and roommates; an all-night crying session as I imagined the worst; calls to every hospital and precinct in Manhattan between Murray Hill where he was and the Upper West Side where both of us live; and finally, a visit from the NYPD to file a Missing Persons Report and compile every detail that might help to match him to one of the unidentified bodies they’ve found (right down to the sizes of every article of clothing he wears, to potential scars or tattoos, to the very personal “is he circumsized”).

Don’t worry, he showed up at his apartment door at 7:45 AM none the worse for the wear. I, however, am severely dehydrated, have a face and eyes so swollen I can’t put my contacts in, have nerves that have already caused me to spill coffee all over my desk and papers twice today, and a general shakiness and emotional level that suggest I’m still in some stage of shock.

Before you suggest that I’m crazy to have freaked out so much, I’d like to add that his roommates encouraged me to sound the alarm, and the good officers at the NYPD agreed that we should get the report in sooner rather than later because this was such atypical behavior for him. Without a doubt, that was the worst/scariest night of my life.


16 thoughts on “What Not To Do Before the Marathon”

  1. I’ve been reading your blog for a couple months now but don’t think I’ve ever commented. Guess your scare has prompted me to come out of lurkersville.

    I’ve had many moments of this kind of panic when my husband is later than expected coming in from a night time mountain bike ride or doesn’t call after a 24-hour adventure race. But this one sounds really frightening because of the out-of-the-blue-ness. I’m glad to hear he showed up unscathed – I hope everything is okay!

  2. Glad he’s OK! And I don’t think it’s that not normal. I had a minor freak out after the BF went out drinking with the buddies and didn’t show up when he was supposed to either. He returned in one piece, but I called literally everyone in my phone and was having a major panic attack.

  3. For the record: coming home an hour late? Fine. Not answering his phone for an hour? Fine. Calling to tell me he is in a cab and will be at my place in 15 minutes, and then not answering his phone and not going to either my place OR his place and being god knows where and totally unreachable for 10 hours, even not answering his work e-mail which he has to be on call for at all times no matter what?

    Yeah, that’s why his roommates and I freaked.

  4. yikes about boyfriend – glad he’s ok :-/

    thanks for the tips on the food before a race – i’ve been trying to watch what i eat before this race so i’ll definitely keep these in mind πŸ™‚

    Are you staying in Burlington saturday night? if you are we should meet up for a drink πŸ™‚ Email me, if not i’ll look for the 4:30 pacer πŸ˜‰ πŸ™‚

  5. Don’t worry, I do the SAME thing. Once when I my b/f wasn’t answering his cell I called the cell phone provider to make sure it hadn’t been shut off or disconnected (turns out he’d left it on silent and it had wound up under the couch some how). My friends told me I was crazy but when you’re used to someone ALWAYS answering their phone and being where they say they will be, it can give you a real scare if they don’t show up and you can’t get a hold of them!

    Now, I’m curious as to where boyfriend was all that time though?

  6. Maybe if you get one of those baby leashes for the BF, you’ll never have to worry about misplacing him again. Attach it snugly! πŸ™‚

  7. I’m glad the boyfriend turned up okay! One of my big fears about living on my own(-ish) is that someone won’t notice if I’m missing or something. Creeps me out!

  8. I just found your blog and I was scared for your boyfriend! I think I would kill my fiance if he gave me that much of a heart attack- and I don’t think you overreacted at all! So scary. I hope the marathon goes well though!

  9. I would do the same thing! When someone does something like that totally out of character, it’s too easy to go to the dark worry place!

    So am I the only one that wants to kno WHERE was he???!

  10. I have a story somewhat like this…

    Soooooooooo for my very first marathon that I actually “trained” for, dieted right for, slept, took the right supplements… just did EVERYTHING “right” for….

    I had a marathon Sunday… and my boyfriend didn’t come home Friday night from his 3PM happy hour.. he came home at 7:45AM saturday morning. I could have killed him! I didn’t get a phone call either.. nothing…

    you’re not alone…. I still don’t let him forget about it.sorry that happened to y ou!

  11. i read your blog on and off and am just catching up on posts. can i ask about the dairy/sweets the day before/two days’ before? just wondeirng what they do to your system prior to marathon. we have a half coming in a few weeks and are doing an impromptu pre-func dinner. any suggestion on good foods to digest the night before? sorry for the dramatic night with your guy – glad he turned up safe and sound! πŸ™‚

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