Top Tips for Running a Marathon
14th October 2016
So you signed up for a marathon and promised yourself you’d do weeks and weeks of training, but guess what, times up and race day is almost here. You start berating yourself for not doing that extra weekly run or for scoffing that family size pizza last night. Now you’re in a state of sheer panic thinking there’s no way you’re going to get through 26 miles in one piece… or even multiple pieces! Fear not; follow our simple guide to get you to the finish line, and no not on a stretcher.
What to Wear
The last thing you want is to be in your stride, feeling great and the shorts you bought to help you look the part suddenly begin to rub and chafe or your new trainers start filling with blood from all the blisters. Our number one tip is DON’T WEAR COTTON. Make sure you choose a fabric such as nylon that is breathable. You want to avoid suffocating and irritating your skin, this will make you feel uncomfortable and make the race much harder. Choose trainers that are lightweight with a good level of support. Make sure you run in your trainers and outfit a decent amount before the actual day. This seems like such a simple piece of advice, but you’d be surprised how many runners turn up on the day in brand new kit and by the 10th mile are bleeding, chafing and in a lot of pain.
Check Out the Course Map
Give yourself an idea of how the course is laid out and the elevation profile for it. By getting to know the route you will be able to mentally give yourself check points and figure out when you need to reserve some energy for uphill sections.
No, this doesn't mean stuffing your face full of pasta, bread and chips the night before the race - if only! Effective carb loading is one of the best ways to provide endurance for a marathon. Increasing your carbohydrate load three days before the race can boost your glycogen (your body’s most easily accessible form of energy) so it can really make a difference. So start to fill your muscles full of glycogen three days before the race by eating carb heavy meals. This can include rice, pasta, porridge and sweet potato. During this period be sure to reduce your protein and fat intake to not hinder the process. Your diet should be about 60-70% carbs, 15% protein and the rest fats.
Yep, you read that correctly, during the run don’t drink too much or too little, simply drink whenever you feel thirsty. You don’t want to be on the last stretch and having avoided drinking for as long as possible, you now feel exhausted and decide to gulp down a big bottle of water. Running with a load of water sloshing around in your stomach will only end one way, but don’t worry there won’t be thousands of people watching or anything. On the other hand drinking to a regimented schedule can also result in you drinking too much. Our bodies are pretty intelligent, listen to them and just drink when you feel thirsty.
Last but not least ensure that you pace yourself, even Mo Farrah must pace himself right? For us mere mortals who probably aren’t going to end up winning the race though, this is a very important step. “Obviously we will pace ourselves” we hear you cry, but saying you're going to do this and actually doing it are two very different things and when you're on the starting line pumped full of adrenaline this thought can often slip away and instead you launch into a full on sprint as if it’s 100m. Find a pace that suits you and that feels comfortable and if you need to slow down then do, you can always try and pick up the pace for the last couple of miles to still make your desired time.