With the Boston, Manchester and London marathons all less than a month away, my Instagram feed is filled with post run selfies and tales of 20mile runs. Its Marathon season! A part of me wishes that I was taking part in the fun this year. But a much bigger part of me is so glad that I’m not. The lead up to a marathon can be stressful, especially with social media. So, I’ve put together a few marathon race day tips to help ease your mind and soothe tired legs in the lead up to a 26.2 mile race.
When you’re weeks away from running your first marathon, or any marathon for that matter, you might be tempted to up your workouts in a bid to squeeze in as many runs as possible before race day. Doubt sets in and you think “I haven’t done enough” But increasing the milage last minute can actually be counterproductive. On marathon day, you want to feel fresh. So instead of focusing on all the miles that you haven’t run, be proud of the ones you have and trust that they are enough to help you to achieve your goal. Allow your body to rest and make sure you taper before race day to ensure you’re not running on tired legs.
Foam roll and stretch regularly, but don’t over do it. Try to foam roll before and after each run, and listen to your body. You might find your calfs are tight on Wednesday and on Sunday it’s your left glute. Try to foam roll each area for at least 30 seconds. Equally, If you’re feeling particularly stiff and sore, go easy on the stretching. The last thing you want to do is anger a muscle that already feels sore.
Chase the dream, NOT the competition.
I love instagram, but its easy to get distracted by what everyone else is doing. And theres nothing like completing a hard run, only to see that everyone else on your feed has double your distance and in half the time (ok thats a slight exaggeration but sometimes it feels like that). Comparison really is the thief of joy. Stop comparing yourself to others. Stop watching what other people are doing. So what if Kelly’s already done three 20 milers. Who cares if John is running 20 miles after racing a half marathon the day before (don’t be like John!)
This is your race. Your body is unique to you and only you. Chase the dream, not the competition. Focus on running strong and well, for you. And only you.
Have a well tried fuelling strategy
Now, fuelling is something thats personal and takes practice. I took shot blocks every 5km or 4 miles, depending on how I felt. This is something I trialled for weeks before the marathon and its a strategy that worked well on race day. It’ll take a bit of trial and error so make sure you give yourself plenty of time. You want to take your gels before you hit the wall, to prevent you from ever hitting the wall, so as a guide, try fuelling around the 4 mile or 5km mark depending on how you feel.
Whether its gels, sweets or other high carb chews that you choose to use, just make sure you’re used to running with them. The last thing you want is an upset stomach on race day. This is probably one of the best marathon race day tips I received.
Test out your race day kit
Another one of my favourite marathon race day tips. You may have to put aside a few race day kits depending on the weather, but make sure you test drive your race day kit before putting it on, on race day. Do your socks give you blisters? Do your leggings fall down? Does your top or sports bra chafe? It’s better to find out these problems during a training run than race day.
I stupidly put on a really thin pair of trainer socks when I ran the London Marathon and it gave me quite a bit of irritation from the half way point onwards. Luckily enough for me, my legs were in so much pain come mile 23 I completely forgot about my annoying socks!
If you’re going to be running with a hydration vest or belt, make sure you practice running with it too. Can you open your zips without stopping to run? Can you eat without stopping? Does your hydration vest become loose when its empty? Ironing out as many creases as possible before race day will help you to have a more positive racing experience.
Organise your playlist
If you’re someone who runs with music, organise your playlist to include songs to play whilst you’re waiting in your start pen, to help you to relax. For me I usually line up on the start line listening to the sounds of Miguel Adorn, Chris Brown Crawl or Bryson Tiller Run Me Dry. I often feel quite nervous waiting in the start pen. So I prefer listening to slow paced songs to prevent the adrenaline rush happening too soon.
For the race, I include songs that help me to block out whats going on around me. I also include songs that remind me of fond memories. Songs by Drake and Rihanna usually remind me of summer. Soca music remembers me of family parties and weddings. It eases my mind when a familiar song comes on, and I take my mind to a place where I am surrounded by my favourite people.
Have a plan A,B, and a plan to just finish!
I went into the marathon with high hopes but I abandoned both my plan A and B before I even started running. With record high temperatures, my goal was to just stay safe, watch my heart rate enjoy running in the sunshine with no time pressure. Sometimes you have to swallow your pride and do whats best for your health. You might have a time in mind, be prepared to throw your goals our of the window and just run. You never know whats going to happen on race day.
If you’ve got any other marathon race day tips, leave them below and if you’re running a spring marathon I wish you all the luck in the world! Go get it!