The Final 0.2: The Last Week of Marathon Training

by Jeff Burtka

The countdown clock for the Boston Marathon tells you 
when you're in the final 0.2 of your training.

Whether you're measuring a marathon in miles or kilometers, neither measurement leaves you with an even number. Instead, runners nearing the end of the marathon find themselves with 0.2 miles to go after the 26th mile or 0.2 kilometers after the 42nd kilometer. In that last 0.2, a runner usually knows, barring some terrible misfortune, that he or she will finish and will achieve a goal, whether it's victory or a personal best.

The last week of marathon training is the equivalent of that final 0.2 of the marathon. All a runner's real training is done. The major worries in this last week are getting to the starting line healthy, remembering to pack everything you need for the marathon, checking the weather forecast every day, and not oversleeping the morning of the race.

It's tough getting in quality runs on slush, ice, and snow.

So as I enter the final week before the Boston Marathon, I'm elated that I have made it this far, but I'm going to be extra cautious about every step I take, whether I'm out running or just walking up and down the stairs. Training for a marathon during Michigan's winter is grueling. I spent so many mornings trudging through snow or trying to keep myself sane on the treadmill by binge-watching shows on Netflix.

The weather wasn't the only cause of stress for me this training cycle. Running Boston is a dream and an honor, and I had a small injury in January that I thought might be a stress fracture (luckily, it wasn't). This is the most money I've spent to run a marathon, and I have several family members who are spending their own time and money to support me. I'm also raising money for the ChadTough Foundation to fight DIPG, a fatal form of pediatric brain cancer (please learn more and donate HERE). I don't want to let myself down, and I definitely do not want to let down my family and the donors who donated to my fundraiser. So with 0.2 to go, I am amped up, ready to go, and hoping that all goes well this week.

I don't know what emotions I'll feel if I make it to the starting line in Hopkinton, except for one: relief.

The snow and ice have disappeared these last couple of weeks . . . hopefully.