With London’s headline race nearly upon us I hope, for those participating, that your preparation is going as planned.
The marathon is such a special event – where else would you find over 40,000 individuals from all walks of life coming together for so many different personal reasons?
Whether it’s beating your PB, proving to yourself that you can go the distance or simply using the event to get back into healthy shape, remind yourself of your personal reason throughout your training and make it your mantra to maintain motivation when your legs are fatigued and it’s cold and wet outside.
With this in mind, we have outlined a few tips and tricks to make your marathon an enjoyable experience rather than just an exhausting one.
Frame your race
Know from the outset what it is you want to achieve from race day and base your entire mindset & training around it. You will receive advice from everyone and anyone about what to do and what not to do but remember that they’re not the ones running your race. Keep to the plan, trust in your approach and stay focused on what you need to do.
Stick to what you know
After months of pounding the roads it’s very common for runners to reward themselves with new kit for “race day” but believe me when I say that that is a big mistake. The countless hours of training to get your legs marathon-ready is not the only thing that you’ve adapted to. Those long runs have also got you used to the kit and shoes that you have worn for hours on end without chaffing and blistering. So stick with the old gear that got you marathon ready in the first place.
Your pace your way
It’s almost impossible not to get wrapped up in the atmosphere and the occasion at the start of the race, but as soon as the clock starts it’s time to switch back to the game plan. The first few miles should feel light and easy. If they don’t then slow down and get your bearings, you’re going to need them later on. Let your fellow runners overtake you if needs be. Trust your pace and build into the race. You will probably end up passing them in the closing miles if you get it right at the start.
The course and staying hydrated
Where possible, follow the blue line painted on the road. This is the line that the course measurement is based on and measures the precise distance of the marathon. Inevitably you’re going to zig zag through the course due to the number of runners present but by trying to keep as close to the blue line as possible you’ll be sticking to the minimum route. This small change along with regular visits to the water stations will aid in controlling your core temperature and keep you hydrated throughout the day.
The marathon is basically 4 x 10k and it’s the final 10k that usually brings with it the infamous “Wall”.
That sudden fatigue and loss of energy is brought on by a reduction in glycogen stored in your muscles and liver. It can come on quickly and the only way through it is to prevent it so stick to these tips:
- Ensure you eat your tried and tested training meal one to two hours prior to the start of your race.
- Manage your electrolytes by reaching for the same drinks and gels which you enjoyed in your long training runs so that you fuel intermittently throughout the run and not just when you feel tired.
- If you’ve done everything you can to prepare but still hit the “Wall”, then apply the three R’s
- Reduce your pace to a walk/run,
- Refuel and Rehydrate
- Refocus your perspective by breaking down the final stretch into small bitesize distances (lampost to lampost).
This approach can help you avoid being overwhelmed by the size of the task and keep you slowly moving forward.
We hope these tips will help you on the big day. Please do get in touch with the COACH LONDON team if you’re looking for help to reduce your chance of injury, to tweak your race day plan to improve performance, or for a bespoke training plan for future races or events.
Good luck and enjoy the big day!!
Written by Gareth Cole, Co-Founder and Head of Performance at COACH LONDON