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Chicago Marathon Race Strategy

Posted by George Parker on
Chicago Marathon Race Strategy

Today, we are talking the Chicago Marathon. Don't be fooled by this course, which is deceptively hard. It may be flat, but it is far from easy. Here are few things to keep in mind as you plan your race strategy.  

 Transcript

George:
Hello, everyone. All right, today on the five minute warmup, we're going to be talking about the Chicago marathon. It is coming up on October 10th, and I know a lot of you guys are running. It might be your first marathon back during the pandemic, and so you want to do a great race. So I want to give you some thoughts on a race strategy as you go through there. So I have run the Chicago marathon twice. The first time, I believe, was back when the race was in 2010. So it was 10-10-10 was the date. That was a cool little marketing slogan, but so the Chicago marathon one is a great one because it is in the city of Chicago. So it's very scenic through the entire race. You start and end in Grant Park, which is an awesome place to have a venue. And you get a run through all the different neighborhoods of Chicago.

George:
And so you're constantly entertained. And I think most importantly, the reason people like it is because it is a flat course. By the way, the reason this is called the five minute warmup is because, whew, before we get started running, I do... the more people can do kind of like a five minute dynamic warmup just to get your body loose. Whether you've been sitting all day at a desk or you're getting right out of bed or whatever it is, is great. And I just got done with mine, and it's winded. So that's why, whew, I'm winded. That's why I'm puffing here. But, okay, the Chicago marathon. Great race because it's a flat course. There really aren't any hills. I think there's one small rise when you go over the Chicago River and that's it. There's nothing. It's a flat course. But that can be challenging because you're not getting a lot of variation in your muscles.

George:
And so you're constantly running flat. You're not getting the up and downs where you can alternate between your gluts, your quads, your hamstrings, to power your effort. So the first tip is try to create muscle variation yourself. And what I mean by that is once you get into a rhythm, play with your stride a little bit. Focus on saying, okay, for this mile, I really want to activate my gluts. And just saying that will force your body into that right motion, where you feel your gluts working. For another mile, say, you know what? I want to be a little bit more on my hamstrings, or I want to be a little bit more, maybe more in the front of my foot to get some of the quad effort in, not for that long. But what you want to do is just kind of alternate to give your body some of that variation that you would get on a more hilly course.

George:
That's the first tip. The second tip is you're going to get excited because it's a big major race, and it may be one of your first races back as I mentioned. And the Chicago marathon is awesome. You're going to have so many people at the start. You're going to be starting in a historic place, and you're going to be starting on roads that are kind of narrow. And so you're going to be in a big group of people and you're going to get excited. Don't. Stick to your race plan. You don't want to be faster than your gold marathon pace, really ever, because there's not variation of topography. This is your chance to work your plan, which was a specific marathon pace and run that plan. Don't try to bank miles early on, it never works. And it definitely doesn't work on a course that doesn't give you any help in the back half.

George:
So tip number two, stick to your plan. Don't get excited. The third tip is don't forget about the weather. I know it sounds like October. I know it sounds like, oh, Chicago's up north, it's on the lake. It can get hot. It can get very hot in October. And if you look, there have been many times where the Chicago marathon has had extreme heat advisories. So don't forget about that. Don't forget that it could be hot and that means pay attention to your hydration plan.

George:
And the final tip I would say is that the hardest part of the race, hardest part of any race, is the last part of the marathon. But what makes the Chicago marathon even harder are two components. The first one is it gets very boring in the back half of the race and it's a relative boring, meaning that there's still fun neighborhoods you're running through, but the crowds are going to thin because now you're running south of the city.

George:
You're out of the more populated areas with more active neighbors. And so it's going to seem a lot quieter, right when the marathon's getting tough. Know that in your head, that all that rancorous yelling and screaming you're going to experience for the first part of the race, it will go away in the back half, mile 16 onwards, it's gone.

George:
Don't be discouraged by that. Know that's going to happen and be prepared for that and be prepared to find your energy from the runners around you and from your own training. And that's what I think makes the marathon hard, is that part right there, that you can't rely upon the energy in the Chicago marathon in the back half, because it goes away. It's a tricky component of the race.

George:
And the final one within that is that very last part of the Chicago marathon towards the finish line, it's uphill, which is mean. That's why you see so many great epic finishes with the pros because they do a couple of those turns and they come up and it's an uphill run. And it's a hard hill actually. So I guess there are two hills, and the second one is right at the finish line. So it's hard. But at that point you've worked so hard. Just know it's going to be hard. It's not the hardest hill you ever ran, but it's going to feel like it. Just push through it. You'll be fine. Best of look to everyone running the Chicago marathon. Let me know how it goes. If I can help you anyway, let me know as well. Until then, I hope everyone has a good training day.

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