HOW TO: PAT CAR­ROLL

Inside Sport - - Contents - WITH PAT CAR­ROLL – James Smith

For months you’ve car­ried out your Gold Coast Marathon plan of at­tack to the let­ter. You’re in peak phys­i­cal form; rar­ing to go. But how do you han­dle the ac­tual race day? What can you do in the fi­nal hours to en­sure you ac­tu­ally en­joy the chal­lenge, while get­ting as much out of the day as pos­si­ble?

A good man to ask is Pat Car­roll. An am­bas­sador for the 40th Gold Coast Marathon (June 30-July 1), he’s also a four–time win­ner of the race: 1983, ‘84, ‘88 and ’97. He’s a three-time Comm Games marathon rep and a top-eight fin­isher, and was the ’88 and ’89 Aus­tralian marathon cham­pion. What he doesn’t know about marathon race-day prep isn’t worth know­ing. En­joy your les­son ...

ONE WEEK TO GO

One of the rea­sons we run is be­cause it makes us feel good. The neg­a­tive about eas­ing back on your run­ning is peo­ple aren’t get­ting their fix; they start get­ting a bit edgy. So keep run­ning, but re­duce the amount you do. The week­end war­riors may knock it back to three runs the week of the marathon. Still keep ac­tive, even if it means go­ing for a nice, re­lax­ing walk on your rest day.

The most I would sug­gest that any­one runs the week be­fore a marathon would be an hour and a half on the Sun­day be­fore. Then on the Tues­day do a light speed ses­sion, a one-hour run on the Wed­nes­day, say a 50-minute run on the Thurs­day, and then no run on Fri­day and Sat­ur­day for a Sun­day marathon.

WHAT TO EAT

Rightly or wrongly, I never liked to run with much in my stom­ach; I found it hard to take a lot in. I al­ways just had a cou­ple of pieces of toast and a cof­fee. This was pre- the nu­tri­tion that’s avail­able now. Th­ese days I sug­gest to peo­ple that they have an en­ergy gel when they wake up. Have that with wa­ter, and maybe also a cou­ple of pieces of toast, with a light spread of jam or what­ever, and a black cof­fee. Have that an hour and a half be­fore the marathon. That should be suf­fi­cient enough.

DON’T THINK ABOUT IT

When you’re fired up for a marathon, you have all this adren­a­line go­ing through you, you’re a bit edgy, lit­tle things may up­set you that nor­mally wouldn’t, be­cause you’re just so fo­cussed on the big day. The marathon is some­thing you spend a lot of en­ergy pre­par­ing for. Then the big day fi­nally ar­rives: you’re like Jeff Horn hop­ping into the ring. A marathon is no dif­fer­ent. There is a fair bit of pres­sure. The night be­fore, as cliche as it sounds, most peo­ple aren’t go­ing to sleep

“I IN­VENTED A TRAPDOOR IN MY BRAIN SO THAT IF ANY THOUGHTS OF THE RACE STARTED CIR­CLING AROUND OR EN­TERED MY MIND, I’D JUST CLOSE THE DOOR.”

much be­cause they’re think­ing about the next day. So just be pre­pared for that.

Look­ing back on my ca­reer, it did start to get the bet­ter of me in my elite ca­reer, the race day: the anx­i­ety, adren­a­line ... I of­ten found I was a lit­tle bit wasted by the time I got to the start line. So I in­vented a bit of a trapdoor in my brain so that if any thoughts of the race started cir­cling around or en­tered my mind about the marathon, I’d just close the door and think about some­thing else; the im­pli­ca­tions of think­ing about it would start to en­gulf me and make me feel anx­ious. When you’re out on your solo long runs or what­ever, that’s when you think about it ...

AND DON’T TALK ABOUT IT

I used to travel with Steve Moneghetti and those guys, Deek ... We’d run events like World Cross Coun­try, Com­mon­wealth Games. We never used to talk about run­ning. We’d so­cialise on the days lead­ing in, on the morn­ing of, but not once would I have had a con­ver­sa­tion with any of them about what they were go­ing to do in the race or how they were feel­ing about it or what­ever. In a way, we were just sort­of chat­ting about gen­eral crap. Just tak­ing our minds away from what was about to come. We’d play cards, muck around, do stupid kids’ stuff ... grown adults act­ing like kids. What we were ac­tu­ally do­ing was try­ing to take our minds off what we were about to get into. We all knew deep down that once that gun went off, we were into it. That’s when the mon­grel comes out. That’s when you put ev­ery­thing into play.

ALONE TIME

On race day be­fore a 42km race, I would go for a light 5­10 minute jog. I’d do that in an area away from the race precinct; some­where quiet, just to be alone. I’d in­volve some short sprints to pick the pace up, walk back, do an­other short sprint ... When you go for a light jog, it helps you iden­tify any tight­ness. You can then stop, stretch your calf, ham­string or quad and then jog again. It’s a bit like di­alling into your body and just mak­ing sure ev­ery­thing, in­clud­ing your breath­ing, is fine.

At the top end you’re run­ning close to three min­utes per kilo­me­tre. It’s hard to do that with no prep. The warm­up pumps you up a bit, gets you ready, gets you fired up, puts you in the zone. For me, the warm­up’s psy­cho­log­i­cal ben­e­fits pos­si­bly out­weighed any phys­i­o­log­i­cal ad­van­tages.

Ob­vi­ously you’re not go­ing to get any fit­ness out of it, it’s just an op­por­tu­nity to think about what you’re about to do.

RACE TAC­TICS

With the marathons at the top end, you’re ei­ther go­ing for a win, or you’re go­ing for a time; de­pends on what op­po­si­tion you’re up against, and what sort of shape you’re in. At the end of the day, most elite marathon­ers have a very strong feel for what they’re ca­pa­ble of pace­wise. When the gun goes off, you have an idea of what kilo­me­tre pace you’re go­ing to be main­tain­ing through­out the 42km. If you’re in a very com­pet­i­tive race and the gun goes off and half­a­dozen guys just tear off down the road at some ridicu­lous pace, you just know your­self that’s not sus­tain­able – you just can’t do that. So some­times you have to lit­er­ally run your own race.

If you’re in an­other marathon where you’re the favourite and bet­ter than the other run­ners and you just want to go for the win, it’s more than likely you’ll be feel­ing pretty much in con­trol from when the gun goes off be­cause you’re go­ing to be run­ning slightly within your­self. So it re­ally de­pends on the run­ners you’re up against.

To find out more about the 2018 Gold Coast Marathon, visit www.gold­coast­marathon.com.au

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