AMA with Coach Jess at the Berlin Marathon

On Sunday, September 29, Coach Jess ran alongside 46,982 other athletes at the 2019 Berlin Marathon. Beforehand, she hosted an Ask Me Anything: Marathon Edition on our Instagram. With the Chicago and NYC Marathons quickly approaching, her tips for training, tapering, fueling, and resting are as relevant as ever. Enjoy the Q&A with Coach Jess as she dives into the last 24 hours before her race!

Q: How do you relax before race day?

A: I do an easy shakeout in the morning. Then I make sure I have everything I need and have my logistics sorted early so I don't have to figure anything out too late in the day or the morning before. Then I sped the rest of the day relaxing! It's easier for me to relax here in a hotel and I have less "to do" than being home in NYC so I am taking advantage of hotel life right now. An early dinner up next, then bed. Hope to be able to sleep but I have a lot of pre-race excitement and am bad at resting.

Q: Tips for tapering before the race?

A: 2 weeks out: last long long run (mine was 16 miles). 10 days out: last hard workout. 1 week out: last long run (mine was 10 miles). Week of: easy running, pull back. Extra rest, hydration, good vibes, good food. No new fitness will kick in or help on race day will work against you. Trust the training and work on resting. I'm bad at tapering and I know that so I go on easy runs to keep me feeling mentally and physically ready.

Q: Runner NYC Marathon in 2021 (I'm a planner lol). What should I be doing this early in training?

A: PROTECT YOUR JOY FOR RUNNING. Training this early will burn you out far before race day BUT build your running economy. Build your ability to run well farther. Speed work shouldn't be started unless you're a skilled enough runner with 500+ miles in your bank of running. Do you have a running bank? If not, start running. Easy, conversational running. Then find a plan that works for you about 5 months out and follow it. I like your planning! Just train smart and set goals Important reminder is to just do you. Everyone has their own version of training.

Q: What do you do for nutrition during the marathon?

A: This time around I am going with Maurten. I'm going to bring 6 with me and take throughout. I got a caffeine one for the last 10k. LFG!!

Q: Any advice for first time marathoners?? I'm NERVOUS about Chicago!

A: Don't waste energy on nerves but let that fuel you to continue to train smart and prepare. Do your training. Do your travel/expo prep. Organize your people on the route and rest your mind and ENJOY IT. Wake up early, the mornings go too fast on race day. Don't start too fast. Try all your fuel before race day.

Q: Is a shakeout run the day before a marathon a necessity?

A: Depends on if your body really needs the extra rest or not. My body needs a 2-3 mile easy easy shakeout. It gets out the nerves and makes me feel ready. I'd say if you're working through slight pains or injuries to skip it but a shakeout to me is pretty necessary.

Q: Pre-race rituals??

A: Not really. Mental prep. Channel my strengths. No negativity. Be ready. Coffee.

Q: Training for my first! Is it normal for my feet/hips to ache during long runs?

A: Long runs will bring that. General soreness, yes. Major pain, no. Go see Custom Performance.

Q: Tips for a pre-race meal?

A: What you usually have before your long runs. For me, easy pasta or white rice the night before. I don't like meat before a day I'm going to run. In the morning I have bread and coffee or oatmeal and a banana. Your body needs easy accessible fuel. The fuel that works for your body.

Q: I got new shoes before the NYC Marathon. What's the best way to break them in? Long run okay?

A: A long run for sure! Maybe a few speed workouts as well depending on the shoe. Get comfortable in them!

Q: In terms of the race, what makes Berlin "Berlin"? P.S. You're gonna crush it!

A: Being a World Major. The flatness of the course gives it a speed reputation and the prestige that has been built up around this race for years in this incredible city full of history. That's all I have for now but after I run it I might have more insight. And thank you!!

Q: Hey Coach! What's your inspiration for this marathon?

A: Knowing my own strengths. Knowing what I want and knowing I like to work hard. Ready to just give my best. First marathon outside of NYC since 2012!