Training Tips

It's show time! Final race day tips for marathoners

23-04-2015

So after all the miles, planning and goal setting, race day is almost here for those running the London Marathon on Sunday. No doubt, right now, many athletes are feeling a bundle of nerves mixed with excitement and just want to get on with the running!

Having run two marathons within 12 months in the last year, this will be the first London Marathon that I have not run since 2011. I’ll be watching, which is the next best thing, but am already missing sharing in what I know what will be an amazing day and can’t wait to get back out there to run my 7th London Marathon! 

10003475 10154006186475717 8311362766164194381 nThe start line awaits this Sunday's London Marathon runners

For those of you waiting to get on that start line (and perhaps regretting the decision to do the marathon at present!), just remember that you are about to take part in something very special which you - and your family and friends - will be proud of for a long time.

Many of you will no doubt already have your own routines for race day and should definitely stick with what works best for you. But I do hope some general pointers below may help to ensure you are super prepared on the big day…

TAPER TIME

  • Your training should have reduced to approximately 30% of your usual training load in the final week before the marathon to ensure that you are fresh and ready for race day.
  • Mental discipline is vital here! Do remind yourself that not tapering correctly could ruin your marathon performance. Ignore your mind when it begins to play tricks on you that you should be training harder and resist the urge to up the reduced pace!
  • I do very little running in the final three days so that the legs can feel fresh on the day. Three days before I’d do a 30 minute easy run, then I’d have a complete REST day two days before. The day before the race, I like to do a light jog from the hotel to stretch my legs of about 20 minutes with a couple of very gentle strides. This loosens the legs and means I don’t feel too lethargic on race day.
  • Do not panic if you also feel more sluggish and lethargic: this is typical of tapering and is not a sign that your body is becoming unfit or unwell. Paranoia about injury and self- doubt is also common so stay mentally positive and try to distract yourself from thinking about racing all the time with a good book or a coffee with positive people!

    SHOES AND KIT

  • Don’t race in brand new kit as it will mean that you are more likely to get blisters and chafing. Stick to clothes and trainers you know are comfortable because you have run or raced in them before.
  • Pack your bag well in advance of race day so that you are not panicking or likely to forget something closer to the time.
  • It can be chilly on marathon morning so do pack some warmer clothes. On the mass start, it’s a good plan to include an old T-shirt to keep warm, that you can wear until a couple of minutes before the gun goes off which you can then throw to one side. There are often kids desperate to get them much to my bemusement (and charities often collect them to wash and sell on so it’s not littering)
  • If you want to avoid athletes’ foot, remember to pack some fresh trainers for after the race and some flip flops and plasters in the event of blisters.
  • Organise and lay your kit and energy drinks, gels etc out the night before the race so it’s all ready for the morning. Don’t forget pins to put your number on!

NUTRITION

Read my tips of carbo-loading and race morning breakfast here

DRINKS

  • It is important that you keep hydrated in the lead up to the race. In the days before, it’s probably best to keep a water bottle with you which you sip from frequently.
  • Most athletes avoid alcohol altogether in the lead up to a race but I have seen some elite athletes enjoy a glass of beer the night before to relax! The key is moderation and keeping your head. A fellow athlete knows one poor fellow who got a bit too excited about being in London the night before the race and who couldn’t resist a night out - he never made the start line the next day!

SLEEP

  • Try to get as much additional sleep in the lead up to the race as possible.
  • It is likely that you will not sleep AT ALL the night before the race with nerves and adrenaline. This will not impact your performance if you ensure that you have had adequate sleep in the week before.
  • Aim to go to bed an hour earlier than normal in the week leading up to the race and stay off your feet in the day as much as possible. The two nights before the race try to go to bed as early as you can.holly at london marathonFriends and family will be proud of your achievement


RACE DAY

RELAX:

  • Ensure you have all your travel plans clear for race day and your kit organised and ready so that on race day you can stay as chilled out as possible.
  • Conserve as much energy as you physically can! Get to the start line with as much time as you can and have a sit or lie down until it is time to start.
  • If you do a warm up, a light five minute jog is all that you need.


ENJOY:

  • Remember how hard you have worked to get to this point and don’t let last minute nerves get to you - they are just a sign that you care.
  • Stay in control, remind yourself of all the great, tough training sessions that you have done and think only positive thoughts.


The marathon is a victory of both physical and mental strength allied with willpower and commitment. Whatever the outcome, you can be proud of taking part in such a huge, unique challenge. Enjoy your special day and loads of luck!

 

This article first appeared on europeanmarathons.com