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Your Marathon Top Tips

With London Marathon now only two days away – I have been hearing from a lot of people asking for advice on how to deal with those dreaded pre-race nerves and what to expect on the big day. So this week I have teamed up with run and triathlon coach Jon Brown to pull together a Find Your Now Extra to answer some of the questions I have been sent.

1 – I’ve had an injury during my training, how do I avoid it causing issues on the race?

Jon:

If following your injury you took advice from a Registered Physiotherapist, then I see no reason why you can’t run the marathon injury free. Try not to over think the past and look forward to an exciting Marathon.

Emma:

If you read my Brighton Marathon blog you will know that I had a calf injury during my training. I saw a good physio and on race day I got through without any problems. Listen to your body and you will be fine.

2 – I’ve only ever ran 17 miles, how am I going to run 26.2 miles on the day?

Jon:

Most people in a marathon programme won’t run any further than between 18-20 miles, it’s not necessarily the distance you have achieved in one session during the lead up to the marathon that will help you succeed. The accumulative effect of those miles in your legs on previous sessions will add fatigue. Most runners will be doing their long run in a fatigued state from their previous session/sessions. The taper weeks leading up to the marathon will allow those legs to feel strong again and come race day your legs will feel fresh and raring to run.

Emma:

Because I had to take a rest period due to my injury, my longest run in one day was 19 miles split into 13 in the morning and 7 in the evening. I was feeling really worried at both mile 13 and mile 19 that I wouldn’t be able to run any further. On the day I kept to my pace and, much to my delight, I was absolutely fine.

3 – What do I eat the day beforehand to make sure I have enough energy?

Jon:

Your body mainly uses Glycogen ( Carbohydrate ) stored in your muscles to fuel your activities/running. We have enough stored glycogen to generally fuel us for around 90-120 mins depending on the level of intensity and fitness of that person. As a golden rule I advise my athletes to start the carb loading process 4 days out from their Marathon. The 4th, 3rd and 2nd days out I would suggest that most of the meals are made up mainly of carbohydrate with some lean protein. The day before a race my advice is to eat healthy and as normal as possible. Try to refrain from hi fibre foods as this can (not always) lead to some issues in a longer endurance event.

4 – What do I need to eat during the race and when?

Jon:

You will need to eat sports gels which will help keep your carbohydrate levels topped up during the race. It’s inevitable that you will burn more calories than you can consume. But with the pre carb loading and your race day strategy you should stay on top of this. For those first time marathoners I would suggest taking x1 gel every 30 mins through the event. I tend to take mine every 7km but this still equates to around 35-40 mins max. As with any nutrition plan make sure you don’t try anything new on race day. Your nutritional strategy should have been tried and tested during some of your longer runs in training.

5 – What if I get a really bad time?

Jon:

Time is but one factor in how to measure a given event. Remember this your first Marathon and you only every got one first marathon. Enjoy it and smile the whole way round. Most people can’t even get to the start line let alone completing this gruelling event. If it’s not your first marathon then take the emphasis off time and give yourself other targets that are not so time conscious. If you are looking to smash your PB then get in touch and we can work toward your next marathon with specific training to help you reach your goal.

Emma:

One of the best pieces of advice I was given when I first started doing triathlon was ‘complete, not compete’. This is now my moto. This is your race, enjoy it!

6 – What do I do if I need the toilet half way round, how do I avoid doing a Paula Radcliffe?

Jon:

Most major events like the London Marathon will have toilets along the course. Pay special attention and read the race pack fully. It will give you all the locations of First aid/Water stations and those all important toilets for your use.

Emma:

Make sure you get in that queue for the toilet nice and early, trust me you’ll need to leave enough time. Take some loo roll as well just in case, because let’s be honest most people there will be having a nervous poo!

7 – What if the weather is really hot or really windy?

Jon:

What I always say to my clients is this “CONTROL THE CONTROLLABLES”. You can’t control the actual weather, but you can control how it affects you during the event. If you’re liable to burning then wear a suitable lotion that does not clog up your pores. You can wear a hat or sun visor cap if hats make you too hot, drink plenty of water on the course and don’t forget to keep your electrolytes (salts) topped up with specific drinks given out on the course. Make sure your clothing is suitable for the environment you’re going to be in. If it’s very cold/windy then you may want to put thin layers on so that if you get too hot you can take them off and tie them around your waist or discard them, that’s your choice and your plan.

8 – How do I deal with pre-race nerves the night before and on the day?

Jon:

Everybody deals with their nerves in their own way, some chat to family and some listen to music to calm their pre-race day nerves. Find what works for you. Sometimes speaking to a friend or coach that has done the event previously and this will help to prepare and calm the nerves. Remember those irrational thoughts are there to throw you off course, you will think you have not done enough training and that you can’t complete the event, this is all normal but try and ignore those thoughts. Sit down and make a list of all the reasons why you CAN do the marathon, what miles you have done all the hours you have trained for and then as you write it on paper it all becomes clear that you have done all that you can and all you need do now is rest until the big day and enjoy it. Don’t forget it’s just a run at the end of the day.

Emma:

I personally use visualisation techniques the night before a race. I find a quiet little spot, close my eyes and run through every step of the day from the moment my alarm goes off to crossing the finish line. I also phoned a few mates that had done Brighton Marathon previously and they gave me all their pearls of wisdom. This way I started the day feeling prepared to deal with anything.

9 – Does it matter if I need to walk during the race?

Jon:

Definitely not, I myself have completed a fair amount of marathons and I would say half of them were based on a run walk programme. A marathon I completed in Halstead I done in 3hrs 53 whilst walking every single water station whilst drinking then running on to the next to repeat that process throughout. If you have to walk then walk with a purpose. The times you do end up walking look around you, soak up the atmosphere, supporters will be cheering you on and shouting out your name. Acknowledge them with a beaming smile.

Emma:

I’ve walked in plenty of my races. Again, remember this is your race. You have built up to this point to don’t put too much pressure on yourself – enjoy it!

10 – What if the man in the rhino suit overtakes me?

Jon:

If the man in the Rhino suits goes past you like he did me when I was running in South Africa, then give him much respect. He has done as much as you whilst carrying a 50kg Rhino mask.

Emma:

I constantly have people overtaking me. Remember this is your race. Read the messages on their t-shirts and be inspired by the charities they are running for. Just don’t get all choked up like I did – it only wastes energy!

I hope this helps any of you that have been worrying about your race. If you have any other questions stick them in the comments below and Jon and I will get back to you by Saturday evening.

My biggest bit of advice that I have learnt from all of my events is that any pain, physical or emotional, is always temporary. A smile also goes a long way – so keep smiling and enjoy your moment!

Good luck from the both of us!!

2 Comments

  • julie ludlow

    April 21, 2017 at 6:47 pm

    Another great blog – some great tips Emma and Jon. I recognise those wise words from your friend Emma 😉

    1. Emma Crampton

      April 26, 2017 at 6:13 am

      They are very wise words!! 🙂

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