23 Apr 19
The Scottish Sun
THEY say that the hardest part of running a marathon is training for a marathon.
And with London Marathon just days away, it can be hard to trust that you’ve done enough to get over that glorious finish line.
The big day is almost here – and you’ve done most of the hard work already
At this stage, you should know what 20 miles feels like, what you’re having for breakfast on the day and what kit you’re wearing.
But there are a few other last minute tips that’ll help to get you off to the most comfortable start.
1. Plan where your supporters will be
There’s nothing worse than thinking you’ll see your mates at mile 20…only to get there and not see anyone.
Make sure you agree where they’ll be and that you’ll recognise each other.
Take a photo of your kit so they know which colours to look out for and if they’ve got a banner, ask what’s going to be on it.
2. Book a massage for after the race
You’re going to be tired. You’re going to hurt.
So why not book yourself a treatment on Treatwell to reward your incredible achievement? Get a swedish massage or lymphatic drainage – nothing too intense but deep enough to force you into a state of relaxation.
If you’ve played your cards right, you’ll have booked the Monday off work so why not spend that day basking in your glory?
3. Practice your race breakfast
Having porridge and banana on race day? Make sure you’re used to eating it before the weekend
Saucony ambassador and five-time Olympian, Jo Pavey, told us: “On the morning of the marathon, get up early enough to have your planned pre-race breakfast at the right time.
“Before you race, make sure that you eat something that you’ve already tried before your long run. This will help to ensure that it doesn’t upset your stomach. Try something that has some easily digestible carbohydrates such as porridge with banana or perhaps some toast and nut butter.
“It’s best to eat your pre-race breakfast at least 3 – 3 1/2 hours before the event.”
4. Find your crew
It can feel a bit daunting running such a massive race on your own but solo runners can find a crew ahead of the big day.
MyCrew is an app that helps connect you to events and activities in your area, whilst connecting you with local movers and shakers in your community helping you discover a new source of inspiration and motivation.
Meet up with other runners on the day of the race and let them distract you for the first few miles into Greenwich.
5. Sleep more
The final few days before a marathon can make or break your race.
Training any more won’t make you fitter – but having some decent rest will.
Saucony UK ambassador Anna Boniface won the 2017 London Marathon women’s mass race and her top tip is getting at least eight hours kip a night.
“Also avoid any necessary physical activity – don’t decide to redecorate your house or start a cycle commute to work during your taper.”
6. Try some yoga
Forget doing anything strenuous this week but do stretch out with some yoga
This week should just be about staying moving. You don’t want to add any more pressure to your muscles but you don’t want to seize up either.
Daisy Hughes is a yoga instructor at Another_Space and she told The Sun that yoga can be an effective injury prevention strategy for runners.
“The core strength element to yoga will also enable you to run with increased efficiency and decreased energy expenditure. In short, a yoga practice will enhance your body’s ability to recover quicker after a long run so you can get back on the road for the next one!”
Ahead of a race, you should aim for around two sessions but if you don’t have time for that, she recommends “incorporating a two minute forward fold into your lunch break every day”.
7. Do carb load…
In the last two or three days before a marathon, eat more carbs to ensure that your glycogen stores are ready for race day.
Last 48 hours
8…but not the day before race day
Forget filling up with a pasta dinner just before the race.
Marathon champ Anna advises having your main meal at lunchtime and then something light in the evening to avoid feeling too full.
9. Forget the curry
Save the curry for after the marathon – not the day before
You don’t want to eat anything too spicy or fatty the day before, or you might find that they cause you belly problems on the day.
10. Pack loo roll
You just never know and the very last thing you want to do is have to run with a damp arse for 15 miles because there was no loo roll in the portaloo.
11. And kitchen towel
You’re going to sweat and you’ll probably need to blow your nose. After a while, that sweat is going to destroy any kind of paper so carry a few pieces of kitchen towel which can stand the extra pressure.
It’ll also mop your forehead without tearing and leaving bits of tissue stuck to it.
12. Get some energising nutrients
Forget the Lucozade at this stage. Stay hydrated and energised with NOCCO’s BCCA-enriched drinks.
Whilst caffeinated options are available, NOCCO offer a range of non-caffeinated, zero sugar and vitamin-packed drinks which are perfect for recovery and repair.
NOCCO is made of BCAAs, branched chain amino acids – accessible protein.
BCAAs are comprised of isoleucine, valine and leucine and when you work out, leucine depletes – something you need to replenish in order to stop muscles from breaking down.
If you don’t want to be aching, add in BCCAs to your post-workout routine. Have a can ready before and after the race and have some after any of your recovery sessions this week.
13. Lay your kit out – pins and all
“Get all your kit laid out and make sure you’ve worked out all your timings of when you’re going to eat, travel to the start line, warm up etc,” Jo said.
14. Set two alarms
Don’t leave anything to chance. Even if you never sleep through alarms, just have two on the go in case.
“Set at least two alarms to ensure you wake up on time,” advised Jo.
“Make sure you’ve thought about things like taping your feet if your prone to blisters and applying Vaseline to sore areas.”
On the day
15. Have your coffee
Coffee not only wakes you up but will act as a useful laxative ahead of the race
As well as waking you up, coffee is a useful laxative ahead of a marathon.
You want to make sure that you’ve really emptied your bowels before leaving home so set yourself a couple of hours before you need to leave, and have a couple of coffees along with your breakfast.
Coffee-poo, coffee-poo – that’s the motto.
16. Remember your painkillers
Generally speaking, race organises advise you not to take any Ibuprofen ahead of marathons as it can put pressure on your internal organs.
Make sure you’ve got some paracetamol on you for the course of the race (be careful not to take too many over a short period of time) and think about taking a couple before you set off at the start line if you anticipate any niggles.
17. And consider taking some Imodium
Running can get things moving down below and pair that constant jogging with race day nerves, you’ve got the perfect recipe for portaloo madness.
If you are worried, take an Imodium before leaving home.
Just be sure not to take too many or you may find yourself struggling to use the loo for days after.
18. Don’t change a thing
If you can run 20 miles on your own on a random Sunday morning, you can run 26.2 miles surrounded by hundreds of supporters shouting your name.
What worked for you before will work for you this weekend.
“Make sure that you’ve practiced your race day routine,” Virgin Active PT Klaudia Patyi-Mikola told The Sun.
19. Have a pre-race snack on you
Yes, you’ve had your breakfast but by the time you’re at the start line, that porridge will seem like a distant memory.
Have an energy bar, flapjack or banana – something small and easily digestible just before you start.
Jo said: “Make sure you’re well hydrated, but only take sips in the last hour or so before the race.
“I find I also like to have a little bit of an energy bar about 90 mins before just to top my energy levels up a bit. I often find it helpful to have part of an energy gel just before I start.”
19. Don’t start too fast
Easier said than done but try to take it easy at the beginning and don’t let nerves get the better of you
On the start line, it’s normal to feel nervous – just try to relax your breathing and remember that running a marathon is an exciting opportunity. If you channel your nerves in the right direction it will help you run well.
“You’ve done all the hard training and now all you have to do is race!” said Jo.
“Keep quite strictly to your planned pace, it may feel easy at first, but don’t feel tempted to go too fast to early on. Most best marathon times are run with an even pace or a negative split whereby the second half is run slightly quicker than the first half.”
20. Don’t be tempted by water stations
If you’ve been drinking every five miles on your practice runs, don’t think about changing that on race day.
There are going to be water stations all along the route – but that doesn’t mean that you have to stop at every one.
Drink too much and you’ll not only find yourself queuing for portaloos but you may also start to get cramp.
21…but do plan your hydration
“Fluids are so important to keep on top of – ahead of the race and while ticking off the miles,” Rich Edmonds, co-founder of Runderwear told The Sun.
“Not only to keep the body hydrated and functioning at its best, but also to reduce the risk of chafing. If you are dehydrated, your body is unable to flush salts away from your skin as easily.
“Drink lots of water before, during, and after, allowing you to perspire freely so the perspiration doesn’t dry into salt crystals that can enhance the chafing.”
Jo said: “Take on water/sports drinks and gels during the race, you should have hopefully been able to practise this during your long run in training.
“It’s important to take on fuel during the race as most runners only have enough glycogen stores to last 18 miles or so, so failure to take some energy on board early on will result in hitting the dreaded wall! It’s useful to know where the drink/ gel stations will be on the course and which brand will be provided.”
22. Mentally set yourself small goals for race day
You wouldn’t be normal if the idea of running 26.2 miles didn’t fill you with horror.
But breaking the race up into 5k or mile splits will make it much easier to deal with on the day.
“When things get tough, use positive self-talk, tell yourself you can do it and think of all the people that have supported you and think how great you’ll feel when you finish,” Jo said.
23. Focus on a mantra
Many runners find it helpful to use a mantra so find a “power praise” for the hard moments.
Anna’s mantra is “Run Brave”. If it’s your first marathon, try something like “I’m a trainee marathoner”. That gives you the mental space to make and accept any mistakes as a trainee, and to take any pressure off.
Focus on maintaining your running style and think about how each footstep is taking you nearer to your goal.
24. Run in a straight line
This might sound obvious but you clock up quite a few extra miles over the course of a marathon race if you’re moving about from one side of the road to another.
There’ll be white lines painted onto the ground and if you can, follow them. They mark the most exact 26.2 route.
It’s hard enough running that distance without adding any extra bits on.
25. Most importantly, enjoy it
Remember, not everyone who applies gets a place in this race. In fact, some people apply seven years on the trot and never get a spot – so you’re mega lucky.
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This is your race, your moment to see what you can do.
It’ll be one of the best days of your life – as long as you’re prepared.
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