With marathons back up on the agenda again are you ready to run your best race?
If like most people, you’ve followed a training plan to prepare yourself for the marathon, then you should be reaching your peak followed by 3 weeks tapering time to ensure you’re ready to take on the distance at a pace you can sustain
– with ‘fresh legs’.
The last few weeks are important to ensure you’re in the best place to hit the start line feeling confident and fit. It’s tempting to overdo it and throw in some extra miles, but as the final few weeks approach, it’s essential to run less to allow for more recovery time.
“… it’s the rest more than the work that makes you strong. And you don’t lose fitness in three weeks of tapering. In fact, studies show that your aerobic capacity, the best gauge of fitness, doesn’t change at all.”
Patti Finke, Marathon Coach, Runner’s World
Below, Andy Brodziak, Performance Coach, suggests a few things in the lead up that could help you:
There are some basic rules of thumb to follow as guidelines for fuelling during an endurance event, most leading scientists and experts agree around 60g of Carb per hour is manageable by the majority of athletes.
It’s the choice of the runner: this can be gels, shot bloks, or hypertonic drinks. NEVER try anything new on race day, and yes, people still avoid this advice and use new products because someone endorsed it and they must be right as they’re really fast!
Some people can’t tolerate gels, so there are other ways of delivering simple carbs. I often get my athletes using real food like dates for an endurance event, again practised in advance on long runs.
As training winds down in the days leading up to the big day, be aware not to overdo the Carbs and try ‘pack them in’ or Carb-load like we were told in the 90s!
Your body is used to what it is used to, and along with this, more fluid can be stored and you can feel bloated. I would suggest eating a nice balance of “good sources” of carbs like sweet potatoes and fruit and keep glycogen stores topped up in the 2-3 days leading up the marathon. Eat normally for YOU, nothing excessive, your training load would have dropped and just focus on sleep and keeping the body loose.
Keeping it simple, and not overthinking it is often the best advice, but you MUST have a race plan. I know they are changing the aid stations this year a bit, so carrying more self-sufficient supplies is a consideration for many.
Most of assume hydration is centred around just drinking a lot of water in the lead up to a big event, like a marathon. This, however can have a negative impact on your outcome of your event by causing a lower sodium level in your blood plasma. You can find out more here. It’s all about balance, pretty individual as you’ll learn and not a one size fits all approach.
You’re better off sipping a solution of electrolytes in the lead up to a big event, keeping the stores topped up and your body in optimal status for a big endurance physical output over 3-6 hrs duration.
Here’s some evidence about preloading before your event, and most importantly why.
Firstly, what to do before a race
Drink to the environment on the day, so looking ahead to London on 3rd Oct the forecast looks like 14-16 deg C, which is ideal for good run conditions, you will still sweat a fair amount based on your sweat rate but the type of clothing you choose and the ambient temperature plays a HUGE role, plus the exertion level.
A marathon is long, but at a steady state so its not high intensity, and that means your body will cool you down very efficiently during the event, but you will need to top up a good balance of electrolytes alongside your FUEL plan – think:
HYDRATION from your bottles, FUEL from your pockets!
A well-prepared runner will have tried and tested different equipment during the training period to establish what’s comfortable to wear for the time/distance. This will include suitable footwear, technical socks, sports underwear, shorts or leggings/tights, vest or t-shirt, and potentially an armband, waist belt or utility vest for your mobile phone/music/key, plus any other layers you think you might need to adjust to the weather conditions.
A lightweight breathable rain jacket or long sleeve t-shirt could be a useful extra layer, or a peaked cap to protect from possible sunlight or fend off the rain. Aim for technical fabrics that will wick moisture from the skin and dry fast. You might also consider anti-chafe cream, lip balm and Rock Tape.
Lay out your kit a week in advance and the night before to ensure you’ve got everything right there so that you’re race-ready and good to go. If it’s your first marathon you may experience some nerves so knowing that your kit is set up is one less thing to worry about in the morning.
Last few tips
- Never wear new running shoes on the day! Make sure you’re running in well-worn in shoes that you know won’t give you blisters.
- Invest in some technical running socks. Designed for the job and far superior to regular socks, they provide moisture control, a better fit, compression support and fewer friction points.
That’s it! You’ve done the essential preparation and you’re ready to race.
From the Profeet Team, we wish you the best of luck.