So… you’ve got a marathon coming up… in less than a weeks time… and you’ve done all your training haven’t you? So stop right there, it’s far too late to do any more positive training now. Back away slowly to the sofa, sit yourself down and conserve your energy whilst you plan out your day. The 2011 Edinburgh Marathon will be my 6th marathon and I’ve heard hundreds of stories from other runners to know that this is advice that really works. Forget the physical stuff just now. Read on for some useful tips on how to make sure your marathon is a great experience to remember.
Boring admin stuff:
Do you know what time your race starts? What time do you need to be there to be able to drop your bag off? Where is the start? How are you going to get there in good time(bearing in mind that nearby roads will probably be closed)? Where will the baggage buses be? When your number arrived (you have checked you’ve got it and your chip, haven’t you?) you will have either have received a paper pre-race info pack, or had an email link to download one. All the information that you need should be in there - SO READ IT!!! This also applies for the race route, any cut-off times, water and energy stations, how your chip works etc, etc, etc…
Ok, so what are you wearing on the day? Will it depend on the weather? Is it clean and ready to go? Have you tried out a long run wearing it did it work ok, or will you need to apply plasters, anti-chafing lubricant, or try something warmer or cooler? What happens if it’s hot & sunny on the day? Or pouring with rain before the start? Remember all the above and make sure you’ve got something disposable (or a reliable volunteer right at the start line to take it off you) to keep the rain/sun/snow off you before the start, as you’ll probably be waiting around for a while after you arrive. Do your shoes fit properly? Please, please, please don’t run in new, untried shoes recipe for horrible blisters, lost nails and a decidedly unfun day out. I always aim to run in shoes with a bit over 100 miles on the clock to know that they’re comfy, bouncy and can cope with the distance. And make sure you’ve got the right socks for you too. My personal racing preference is thin, single skin anklets, but if you need double skin, compression or thicker socks then make sure they’re ready to go too.
Food and drink before:
After weeks of hard training, make sure you keep your tummy happy by sticking to foods you know and enjoy in the days leading up to the race. I’m having a vegetable rich risotto with just a touch of chicken & non-spicy chorizo, followed by yummy baked apple the night before, which I know works without any unwanted side effects how about you? Carbo-loading doesn’t mean simply endlessly stuffing your face, just concentrating your diet on (ideally slow release) carbohydrates for the three days beforehand. Check out details on Runnersworld. And make sure you’re drinking plenty of (non-alcoholic) fluid in the run up too you can’t play catch up on marathon morning and presumably don’t want to spend all race ducking in and out the loos! Ditto food on race morning, have exactly what you’d normally have before a long run, avoiding protein and fats and make sure you know how long beforehand you need to eat to be able to run comfortably without it all sitting heavy on your insides or popping back up to pay a visit.
Food and drink during:
I’ll start this with a little personal plea, what ever else you do, don’t carry water round with you. Even the smallest marathon will have ample water stations. And carrying a bottle while running will slow you down and make you run lopsided. This will affect your whole running style and make it more likely that you’ll get injured. You CAN go for three miles between drinks. Ok, rant over! Do you know what energy drinks will be available during the race, how often and if you can stomach them? If they work for you, fantastic, nothing more you need to do than remember to take one when you pass the energy station. If, like me, acidic energy drinks make you want to heave, you’ll need to have an alternative with you, or risk ‘hitting the wall’ when your body runs out of glycogen later in the race. You should have practised topping up fluid and energy during your long runs. If not, cross your fingers and take your best guess! Whether you plan on taking energy gels, sweets or something more solid (really?), make sure you’ve got a good way of carrying it
Sweaty, rain sodden jelly babies are revolting and very slippy, take it from someone who knows! And energy gels in the waistband of lycra shorts isn’t too much fun either. After some experimentation I’m settling for a marathon belt pinned to my shorts (to prevent bouncing and rubbing) with two gels inserted either side perfect.
During and after the race:
Get your cheering squad out! Look at the route with them and decide where’s the best place for you to spot each other (remember those road closures). Enjoy the extra psychological boost you get from genuinely personal cheers and let it spur you on to your best possible run. And make plans for how, where and when you’re going to meet up at the finish. That pre-race pack? It will also have a map/description of the finish area (which will be busy), so make sure your mobile is in your baggage (you can’t phone your Mum if she has your phone) and figure out your meet up spot beforehand. Enjoy your post race drink, banana and photo’s, keep moving to avoid seizing up, get some warm clothes on and some ‘proper’ food inside you as soon as you can and SMILE
You did it! Well done, give yourself a huge pat on the back, relax and celebrate your great achievement.
Member since: 18th May 2011
I believe that exercise is for everyone - let me help you build your fitness, confidence and energy, set realistic goals and have loads of fun along the way