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have now completed your marathon training. The next stage is to taper ready for
the big day.
This is the period that
allows your body to recover from all that hard training and prepares you to be
at your best by race day. Many runners find this a very difficult and
frustrating time as you can feel that you should be out running. It is quite
normal to feel quite lethargic at this time, but don’t be tempted to go out for
an extra run, do any speed training or ‘test’ an injury. No training now will
help you for race day, you need to take things easy.
Running –Your last Sunday
run should be no further than 10 miles, pace very easy and relaxed. During the
week one or two easy runs of 4 or 5 miles. No running after Thursday.
Food – Eat normally until
Wednesday evening, but don’t skip any meals, try and eat something every 3
hours. From Wednesday evening until Saturday lunchtime reduce the amount of
protein and fats in your diet. Proteins and fats stop you feeling hungry. For
this period base all your meals on carbohydrates, you can still eat fruit and
vegetables but avoid those that are filling but low on carbohydrates e.g.
cabbage. You can eat plenty of rice, pasta and potatoes. Double the amount of
these you would normally eat but only have half the usual amount of
sauce or toppings. Bread, teacakes, bagels, scones etc are fine but try and use
very little or no butter/spread. Warm teacakes etc in the microwave and you can
probably do without any spread at all. Use jams or honey instead. For snacks,
try oatcakes (no spread), rice cakes, high carb fruits – bananas, mangoes, etc
-energy bars, breakfast cereals etc.
During this period you do not need to eat more than usual just increase
the % of carbohydrates. For Saturday evening, I suggest you eat whatever you
fancy (within reason). You will sleep better and feel more relaxed if you can
eat what you want. Don’t eat a huge meal and don’t eat too late in the evening.
A moderate portion of chicken, fish or meat is fine, with some carbohydrates
too. This is not a time to try out anything that you have not eaten before.
Water – From now until
race day you must ensure that you are well hydrated at all times. Keep a bottle
of water in the car, at your desk, in your bag when shopping, whilst travelling
to London and all the time you are in London before the race.
As you increase your carbohydrate intake you will need to increase the amount
of water too. You are eating more carbohydrates to enable you to store glycogen
in your muscles and extra water is needed to store glycogen. You may find that
you put on a couple of pounds, don’t worry, as soon as you start using the
stored glycogen on race day that extra weight will go! If you allow yourself to
become dehydrated, particularly in the last couple of days before the race,
this will affect your race performance so don’t forget to take water to the
Alcohol – Try and limit
your intake this week. If you do have a drink ensure you take on extra water,
all alcoholic drinks will dehydrate you.
Sleep – Try and get plenty
sleep in the last week, no very late nights. The extra carbohydrates should
help you sleep well.
Other – this is not a time
to do anything strenuous, so postpone any spring cleaning, decorating etc., and
don’t take up any new sports or activities that could give you an injury. Avoid
people with colds, sore throats etc., wash your hands more often if you are
concerned about catching viruses after contact.
Stress – Try and not to
worry about your marathon debut. You have done the training, now by following
these guidelines you will have prepared yourself to the best of your ability.
At the Expo you will be
given a large plastic bag, affix the adhesive number (same as your race number)
to the bag. Pack everything you will need for race day:-
Drinks for pre race
Food for pre and post race
Warm top (you will chill very quickly once you’ve finished)
Bin bag or old t-shirt
Enough money for hot drinks/food post race and transport
Bum bag with sweets etc
City Centre map
Affix the Championchip to
Affix your race number to
your running top (check the weather first!)
Race Day Morning
If you don’t sleep well the night before the race, don’t worry, this will not affect your race performance.
Get up in plenty of time – use an alarm clock or your mobile phone.
You MUST eat breakfast even if you don’t feel hungry, it’s important to top up your glycogen levels before the race. If you find it hard to eat much at this time take some food or sports drink to the start with you.
There is no need to try and place yourself close to the start, go in your allocated area/pen, your chip will start your timing when you cross the start line. It may be congested for the first mile or so, be careful not to step on discarded bin bags etc in the early stages.
As with all races, don’t go off too fast. In a shorter race you can often recover from a hasty start, you CANNOT do this in a marathon and you will suffer painfully for this in the latter stages. Anyone who wants to know their ideal marathon pace, email me your most recent race times. Discipline yourself to go no faster than this pace until you get to halfway. Once you are at the halfway point run as you feel. By not going to fast for the first 13 miles you will find yourself overtaking many runners that started too fast and this will boost your confidence but not theirs.
Start taking on fuel (sweets, gels, sports drinks) nice and early, at the 4 or 5 mile point, don’t wait until you feel that you need something. Don’t rely on there being supplies of sports drinks available, it may have all gone by the time you get there. Take a drink at the first drink station which is at 3 miles. There are drink stations every mile thereafter, it is not necessary to take a drink at every station, every 3 miles should be adequate.
There are toilets en route, don’t waste time if there’s a queue. You will pass lots of pubs, garages, hotels etc., use those, nobody minds on marathon day.
You will experience a whole range of emotions when running a marathon and most people do have a spell when the going gets tough. Don’t think that you are going to feel like that for the rest of the race, your blood sugar will have dropped, take on some fuel, ease up on your pace and try and remain cheerful by talking to others around you. Other runners will be suffering too and a chat with a complete stranger can distract you and you may be helping them too. Take a walk if you need to, you do not have to run every step of the way to have a good race. There are lots of mental tricks you can use to remain focussed. 10 miles will be double figures, 13.1 miles (21km) is halfway and you will then be heading for home and counting down the distance from that point will help. Or you can divide the race by time, so if you’re aiming for 5 hours, divide the race into 5 x 1 hour chunks.
There is a lot of crowd support on the course and especially in the last mile and this will spur you on, try and smile as you run through the finish line – they’re taking your photo!
Collect your medal and your bag, put on your warm top as you will chill very quickly and have a drink. If you are unwell seek medical attention immediately. Make your way through the finish area (this area is not accessible to non-runners) and to your pre-arranged meeting point.
Eat and drink something as soon as you can after finishing, this will aid your recovery.
Congratulations – you are now part of 1% of the population – a marathon runner
Oh, gawd. Davey has said I can do tomorrow's event instead if I want..... I am feeling much better today, and he wants to know by this evening.