In the final few days before the race, ensure that you get enough rest and eat the right food. A couple of nights before the race, ensure that you get a really long nights sleep. It is likely that you may suffer from pre-race nerves, and so it is better to anticipate this then wake up on the morning of the race feeling groggy. Ensure that you carb-load in the week before the race, in order to provide essential slow-releasing fuel to your muscles. Something that can be forgotten is to familiarise yourself with the course, where the water stations are located and where the toilets are located. Even further, you could run the last 4-5 miles of the course. This will hopefully give you the feeling that you are almost home and dry, when you are almost on your knees during the race.
Turning up early to a race may seem like a piece of basic information, but in the buzz and commotion of race-day, you can easily lose focus of your pre-race plan. Not visiting the loo or forgetting your inhalers could have a massive impact halfway round the course. Carrying loo roll is a common recommendation from anyone who has completed a marathon before. Ensure that you eat well in advance of the start, even in the queue if you have to. Spare shoelaces and socks would be a good idea in case laces snap or it’s a wet day. But most importantly, try to treat the race the same as you would with any long training run, and don’t do anything different or uncharacteristic.
Once at the start of the race, it is very easy to get carried away with the emotion and the passion emitted from the crowd and other runners. Make sure however to start off by not going too quickly, as many runners find that this is to blame when a target time is not met. It is a lot easier to build up to your desired pace as you will be at less risk of causing yourself injury, and you will be much more likely to finish the race in your desired time! Be confident that you have done the right amount of training and that this will get you through the race, especially when you hit the dreaded 20 mile mark.
If you do begin to struggle, use things around you to help to keep you going. Some people have commented that ‘buddying up’ with someone else and chatting on the way round helps to alleviate and feeling of discomfort. Otherwise, you can try and stick to a group of people and not loose them; it is a lot harder to run on your own when you are open to the elements and all you have to motivate you is yourself! Try picturing yourself at the end, running down the Mall and collecting your medal. This should keep you going in those final few miles.
There is no doubt that the marathon is a very tough event and nobody competes pain-free. Be sure to soak up the atmosphere and to enjoy the day. As long as you stick to what you have been doing throughout your training programme, you will get through the race with no issues. Keep to eating the same breakfast, wearing the same socks and using the same Vaseline. The last thing you want is to have an upset stomach or to experience any irritation. But most importantly, enjoy the festival that is the marathon and make sure you have something planned for after, be it a beer or a well-earned early night!
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