This article is from the Running FAQ, by Ozzie Gontang with numerous contributions by others.
These Hints are from a brochure for Super-Fours, i.e. those running over 4
hours in the Marathon. It was subtitled: "A Short Guide to the Care and
Support of Four-Hour Marathoners, The Physically Distressed and Mentally
Distracted Sub-Fours and The First Time Marathoner-Who Only Wants To
It was originally published by the International Association of
Marathoners (IAM and pronounced "I AM") in 1988.
The last 6 to 8 miles of the Marathon will test an individual physically
but most of all mentally. No matter how well prepared on may be, the
unknown of how one will be or how the weather conditions will be leaves
one with some sense of discovery or travelling unfamiliar territoroes of
mind/body. It is often for the righteous and well-trained that the fall
from grace is the hardest.
Know that you will tell others your verbal time:
"About 4 hours."
Know that you will harbor a desired time:
"I THINK I can do it,
if all goes perfect,
15 to 30 minutes faster."
Know that you will have an ideal or fantasized time:
"Wouldn't it be great to break
3:30 in my first marathon."
Acknowledge your desired time and Fantasy Time verbally to yourself, otherwise
they will influence you finish time for the worse.
Super-Four Success One:
Set your time with a standard deviation (SD) of 15 minutes. The SD+/-
(Verbal Time + 5 minutes). The mind/body message goes from a single
second in time to a window of 30 minutes and respects the mind, the body
and the conditions of the day.
Super-Four Success Two:
Starting a marathon 30 seconds to 60 seconds per mile faster than your
race plan for the first 3 to 5 miles can slow your finish time from 20
minutes to 90 minutes. That speed will burn off several times more
glycogen in the first 3 to 5 miles than needed. You are fueled with
energy from minimal running the 6 days before the marathon. You have also
stored extra energy from eating and hydrating well the last three days
before the marathon. Know your game plan and stick to it for the first 3
to 5 miles when you are so full of energy. That energy can easily give
you the power to run those first few miles at that 30 second to 60 second
per mile faster...and not even realize it. It will remember somewhere
between miles 18 and 26.
Super-Four Success Three:
The jitteriness you feel the morning of the race and the day before are
from your body being fueled and needing to expend energy. You can
identify it as fear, or nervousness, or worry. Just remember you haven't
run more than 2 to 4 miles in 3 days. You body is ready to do
something-Run A Marathon. You now feel what it's like not to run a few
days...or the feelings 3 days after injuring yourself. To walk and
sightsee 5 to 10 miles the day before the marathon is 500 to 1000 calories
of energy plus the water to store the glycogen. You may not be able to
replenish it by race time.
Super-Four Success Four:
In the past 6 months if you have moved, bought a house, changed jobs,
started or ended a relationship, had a child (or fathered a child), have
trouble at work or home that costs you mental energby, there is a good
likelihood you will finish 30 to 60 minutes slower than you had planned.
Super-Four Success Five:
When you feel tired or unable to go on, should your mind go to the
finish line, bring it back to the present. If your mind is at the finish,
so is your body...even though it has 1 to 6 more miles jto go. Bring the
mind to the present by saying, "I am at Mile ___ and am being drawn by a
magnet to the finish. I hold my body up and erect and I am being pulled
steadily to the finish."
Super-Four Success Six:
The last 10 miles push the crown of your head up and look to the
horizon. By holding the head erect you save your shoulder muscles and
balance not only the weight of your 12 to 14 pound head but also your
Super-Four Success Seven:
The last 6 miles run out from the pack and away from the curbside. You
are in a trance state by mile 18. You will be open to and picking up
visual and non-verbal cues of runners around you. If you are away from the
curb and can see 200 to 300 yards in front of you, you will be running
your own race. Should someone stop dead in f ront of you, do not give them
any of your energy by getting angry or upset. Simply say as you pass them,
"Don't lose your form. Even if you walk keep your good running form."
Super-Four Success Eight:
When someone running with you starts to speed up or to fall behind, or
you start to pick up your pace or fall behind; in your mind, picture a pair
of scissors in your hand cutting the cord between you and the other runner.
Otherwise, you will be carrying that person in your mind...and it will
only slow you down...or wear you out if they are in front of you. You can
only be in one place physically, and that is directly above the space upon
which you feet are running. Cutting that cord allows you to cut loose from
a slower runner or free your mind from attempting to keep up with a faster
Super-Four Success Nine:
When you run with someone, run shoulder to shoulder. If you run
slightly behind, the mind often feels like it is having to catch up. If
your image is that of being pulled or towed by the runner in front of you,
then running behind is okay...unless the runner complains.
Super-Four Success Ten:
In a marathon to catch someone, wind them in over a mile to three miles.
that way you waste no energy required to finish the last 1 to 6 miles.
If you want to share your thoughts, suggestions, ideas, mantras, anecdotes,
and your own Super-Four Success hints, please send e-mail them or send them
International Association of Marathoners (IAM)
Attn. Ozzie Gontang
2903 29th Street
San Diego, CA 92104
e-mail: Ozzie Gontang <email@example.com>
Mindful Running: http://www.mindfulness.com