Marathoner Kara Goucher will join her Oregon Track Club teammate Shalane Flanagan on the starting line of this Sunday’s Olympic Marathon, along with Desiree Davila, who finished one spot ahead of Goucher at January’s Olympic Trials in Houston.
We caught up with Goucher recently to talk about her buildup to this Sunday’s race, which will be her second Olympic appearance. She finished tenth in the 10,000 meters in Beijing, running a personal best 30:55.16.
Competitor.com: This is your second Olympics, but last time you represented the U.S. in the 10,000m and now it is the marathon. How is your preparation different for London than it was four years ago for Beijing?
Kara Goucher: My preparation for this Olympics, and this marathon in general has been very different than any other marathon I have done before. I have dedicated months to this—from April 1 to now, without having fun racing on the track or tapering down at anytime. I have just trained and done a ton of mileage. I have sort of hidden away and trained.
Today we hear so much about various methods or pieces of equipment that promise to enhance performance. In preparation for this marathon and others, how have you approached finding what is right for you in this area and what, if anything, do you believe really is a great asset to your performance?
I have tried all sorts of things in training and recovery. I do like to wear compression socks for recovery and at times in races when the temperatures are cool. You have to try it all and see if you feel like you get a benefit. I use compression socks when necessary and I wear a Phiten titanium necklace at all times. After trying many things, these are the two things that I found consistently helped me. But I am also always open to trying anything. You never know what can work for you.
What are the three key areas of performance that you have focused on going into the Olympics in order to perform your best on the day?
I have focused on my hydration/nutrition, my strength and my footwear. I have practiced and utilized my marathon nutrition, run more miles than ever before and changed my racing shoe to help me get the best out of myself on Aug. 5.
How have you gone about formulating your nutrition plan? Starting about three days out from the marathon, what will your nutrition plan entail?
I have had a lot of trial and error, and also enlisted the help of experts. I made some mistakes early on in my marathon career, but now I have a system that works for me. I have talked to specialists with my [nutrition] sponsor and have found a drink that works great for me. I also have learned that three days out from race day or two days out from a simulation workout, it is best for me to eat bland and focus on my carbohydrate consumption. I drink my electrolyte mix and snack on pretzels and crackers. I fuel those stores on simple carbs and store up energy without risking any stomach issues.
How have you focused or modified your training in order to prepare for the Olympic marathon course? Are there training methods or types of training session might you could share or recommend with recreational competitors?
I have done a lot of workouts where I vary my pace in longer runs and longer sessions. This has prepared me for the breaks in rhythm that will occur during the race. It’s always good to know what type of a course you are on and then prepare once a week specifically for the course you are going to be racing.
About The Author:
Sports nutritionist and exercise physiologist Krista Austin, Ph.D, has been a consultant to numerous U.S. Olympic runners and triathletes.