7 Simple Steps to a Successful Marathon
Well, it’s here again….the London Marathon. I don’t know about you, but I'm all set……to put my feet up and watch thousands of people run 26.2 miles from the comfort of my sofa! In all seriousness, I take my hat off to every single person that even attempts to complete this amazing feat, and it is fantastic to know that so many good causes are benefiting from such an event.
I have been following the journey of one of our clients that is taking part this weekend (the infamous Guy Watt – if you’re watching the BBC on Sunday you may even see his interview!), and am truly inspired by the dedication and commitment he has shown on his journey to the London Marathon.
Guy, along with many thousands of others are now starting to fully realise what they are asking their bodies to do, and I often get asked about preparation for such an event. Here are a few simple steps to make this the best race of your life:
#1 – Hydration: It’s not all about H2O
Ensure you are fully hydrated when you reach the starting line. This means that 2-3 days before the race you need to be drinking frequently (little and often) throughout the day, and not just water. In the day before the race you may want to include a sports drink in your hydration in order to maintain your electrolyte/salt levels. The same goes for race day; you may want to take on board a sports drink prior to the race as well as ‘topping-up’ throughout the race. Don’t wait until the last 5-8miles to do this – it’s too late at that stage!
#2 – Nutrition: Give me Carbs!!
In the same respect as hydration, this starts a few days prior to the race. Make sure that you are eating plenty of carb-rich foods (pasta, bread, oats etc.) to provide you with a fully replenished glycogen store at the start line. Try to avoid bingeing on large meals, and stick to the ‘little and often’ rule. This will help to avoid that bloated feeling. On the morning of the race try and take on board a carb-rich breakfast e.g. porridge and perhaps a small snack 1-2hrs prior to the race. Have handy a few easily digestible carb-laden snacks for during the race as well e.g. gels, sports drink.
#3 – Clothing: What not to wear!
Avoid anything new! Even if someone has given you a nice new pair of shorts especially for the big day, politely tell them that unless they want to nurse your chafed skin tomorrow then you will stick to what you know for the race! You want to be comfortable above all else – otherwise it could feel like an even longer 26.2 miles!!
#4 – Pace: I feel great – let’s go!
The excitement, the adrenaline, the atmosphere, your friends and family cheering you on…..it can be so tempting to go out too fast in those first few miles – don’t! It is a long race (maybe the furthest you have ever ran) and you don’t want to burn out in those last few miles just because you got a bit over-excited at the start. Stick to your pace from the start and it won’t be quite as painful in those last few miles.
#5 – Mind-set: Why am I doing this?!?
Mental preparation is just as important as the physical preparation. Remind yourself of all the hard work that you have put in and that you are as ready as you can be - be confident in your preparation. Don’t be afraid of nerves; it is perfectly normal to feel nervous before the race. Keep in your mind the reason for completing this marathon, especially when the going gets tough.
#6 – Routine: Who likes change anyway?!
Change as little as possible from your normal routine. This includes your nutrition, hydration, what to wear as well as your bedtime and your usual pre-race/pre-long run routine. Race day is not the time to be experimenting with any of these things – that’s what your training was for. You know what works for you, so stick to it!
#7 – Zzzzzzzzzz
Sleep is so important, and it is most likely that you won’t be able to sleep as well as usual the night before the race, so make sure the days before the race you go to bed at a reasonable time and get plenty of sleep. This will help you arrive at the start line refreshed and ready to go.
Finally, enjoy it! You have trained hard for this and now is the time to have a bit of fun and raise a lot of money for some great causes! Rest assured I will be thinking of you as I watch from the comfort of my sofa ; )