To kick off marathon season in Tokyo, we asked champion marathoner Amy Cragg how she prepares for a race abroad:
How do you train/prepare for a marathon where you are not able to run the course prior?
It’s not always feasible to train on the course ahead of time. However, I do lots of research. Most marathons have time-lapse videos of the course online along with a course map and an elevation guide. I then try to mimic those courses in my marathon build up- if it’s a hilly course with lots of turns I seek out hills, if it’s flat and on cement most of my runs will be flat. However, when it comes down to it: if you’re fit, you’re fit, and there is no surprise you can’t handle.
How does the change in time zone, weather and geological conditions affect you physically? Mentally?
I tend to be a bad traveler- my body loves its routine- so from the time I leave home until the gun goes my main focus is adjusting to the new environment. I wear compression tights and stretch on the plane, when I get there I take walks in the sunshine and eat meals according to the new time zone to recalibrate. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t but as long as I don’t stress about it- it won’t affect my race.
How much HOTSHOT do you travel with?
I always travel with 4 HOTSHOT- 2 in my carry-on. I only drink one before the race but bring extras just in case!
When do you utilize HOTSHOT during training?
I have a HOTSHOT before every hard workout and long run. I drink it after my warm up right before my final strides. To me, it signals “go time.” I take it the same time before a marathon as I do in practice which ends up being about 10 minutes before the gun goes off.
What training tips would you give to someone who will be running a marathon overseas for the first time?
Do your research well ahead of time, try to simulate the course, the weather conditions, the food you will be eating and think about how you will handle any obstacles that get in your way. Then, about a week out- let it all go. It’s a marathon. Things rarely go completely as planned! Just like in training a big part of being successful at this distance is being able to handle one difficulty at a time. Stressing doesn’t help- so no matter what happens those last 10 days just keep telling yourself- “nothing can throw me off my game.”