Two Weeks until the London Marathon; 5 Tips for Marathon Success
LONDON MARATHON: ARE YOU READY?
Oh dears…how are your nerves?
Only 10 days to go before the “Big Day” for many of us! After months of training in the rain, in the dark , after a hard day’s work , when we didn’t even feel motivated to go for the scheduled workout but in the end we did and most of the time alone, where the only partner to push you our was yourself!
And finally here we are… the count down for the most important running date that we have been waiting for, what seems like a lifetime is now only a few days away!
I am Miriam Jimenez, Miss Personal Trainer blog and excited to share with all of you from my personal experience after my first marathon 2 years ago and my knowledge as a Sports Science graduate. Here is my top 5 Pre-race and Race Day Tips for London Marathon, which I hope will help you to perform at your best:
1. Tapering period
If you are planning to do any intensity workout less than 10 days before the race, the time to think about it is now. Numerous studies have said that a high intensity workout that produces a high level of lactic acid in your muscles ( that sore feeling after 75% or higher effort set session or tempo run) , it could take between 10-15 days for your muscles to recover to 100% after a workout, especially if you did a long tempo run , long sets or fartlek in that period before the race.
This means, if you feel like you’re missing an intensity workout and your planning to do one before your marathon just don’t do it the last 2 weeks before race day. This by no way means that you can’t run, but the intensity of your workouts shouldn’t exceed more that 70 % effort . Of course, not everyone it is the same and each individual has different lactic adaptation depending on their level of fitness ,so some people will recover quicker than others.
For example, a professional athlete could do a session 80% effort 7 days before the race and feel full recovered for the race day. The reason is because he is a high level runner and he has a great level of lactic adaptation, but for a intermediate runner, which is not used to do this kind of workouts often , it could take longer to get your body 100%.
So, as Physiology professor Frank Cotton recommends for an intermediate runner, the training should be eased up at least three weeks before the race to get your full body recovered and on optimal conditions for the important day. And this period is known as ” tapering” period. So don’t plan to do 20 miles 10 days before the marathon day or you will feel it later.
2. Racing shoes
Most runners have a single pair of shoes that they have used during their entire training program and it will be the same pair to run the marathon. This is the most common thing, but not always are these shoes good enough for the race as the cushioning could already be shot.
There are many opinions about the “km life” for a shoe, but to be honest I don’t think everyone tracks how many kms have been run in a shoe and also there are other variables such as the runner’s weight. So from my experience, it is more about the feeling , If you start having pains when you thought the shoes were perfect for you ,that it is a sign or if you feel the ground on your fore foot and this wasn’t happening before, this too is a sign. Other tip is the back heel of the shoe, if it is really deformed in shape ,well, you guessed it, the shoes are done!
In this case , I will recommended to get the same pair or lighter weight shoe with similar cushioning and design to run the marathon, but don’t wait to the last minute to trial them!
In terms of the size, I am sure you don’t want to get any painful blisters. Part of this means you need to keep your toe nails trimmed the other part of course, your shoes have to be big enough .The best way to measure,it is to get on thumb on the front between the toes and the top of the shoe. This definitely works!
3. Nutrition before and after the race
The traditional thought about the ideal menu the previous week before the race ,it is a Carbs diet. Eat day and night, everyday pasta, however, that is not the ideal plan. They could make you feel heavy and will be storage as fat in your body ,if you don’t burn it.
So ,from my experience, twice a week pasta as salad or plain plus, rice, meat and fish like salmon the rest of the days will be a good combination. Of course, don’t forget to keep hydrated with still water or fruit to get your body ready for the effort your about to exert.
The breakfast on your race day is a key element to your performance. Eat at least 90 min before the starting time and be careful what you eat and how you eat. Don’t try anything that you are not used to, my perfect breakfast it is a cup of coffee with milk ,2 small toast of rye bread with peanut butter or scramble eggs instead, and if it works for you, a banana . Make sure that you don’t take a heavy breakfast or big portion as this will be difficult to digest, affecting the course of your race.
In terms of what to eat during the race it is quiet simple. I suggest to have a ” test” long run before the day. That could be the last long run planned in your program and it would be your opportunity to try what you are going to take and when to eat. Not always is everything that the race stations offer is good for everyone, so it is better to be ready just in case.
From my experience, the gels are not really good for me they are difficult to digest and the artificial flavour doesn’t help but of course depending on your personal taste these can be perfect. For this reason, I prefer carbs or protein bars like Treck ,which has good amount of energy and natural flavour. In terms of type of drink, normally I take water from the station, taking small sips.
About WHEN to do it: as I said, everyone is different, but in my case, km 7 , 16, 20, 24, 28,32 or 36 are my top stages to eat small pieces of bars or take small sips of water. If you don’t feel hungry or thirsty, don’t try to avoid intaking sustenance! Your body is a machine and needs fuel for a such big effort, so if you want to finish in good condition, planning your nutrition is an equally important part of the preparation.
A typical mistake and the principal reason for injuries can the warm-up, which is normal to avoid for runners taking the first kms easy “warming-up” . Take enough time to arrive to the venue and leave 3omin to get ready for the race. Normally, you need to be 10 min before at the Start line,so you have 20 min to jog really slow for 10-15 min and do dynamic stretches, especially hip-flexor and core (internal/external rotation, upper body rotations,etc) really demanded during a long run ,helping you activate your body and be ready to go.
5. The Racing Pace
Especially if it is your first marathon, don’t expect to run your 10k pace, it is a tremendous feat taking on a marthon. Marathon is race that your run with your mind, talking to yourself and checking if your cardio and muscles are on the right conditions every single km. Even when you are feeling great after the half ,your feelings could change drastically the last 10k ,when the famous wall could make its appearance. ( when your motivation may go down and your body conditions are not that great anymore ) .
So, my advice is to get a steady pace, which will be easy to maintain for a long duration, without issues. Hyperventilating or lactic on your muscles the first 10k are not the right feelings to maintain the pace.
Find your pace, normally a little bit faster than it was during your tempo long runs, but if you start to suffer, don’t hesitate to slow down a little bit and maybe later, depending how you feel , you could progress the last 10k.
I hope these tips will help you to get you more confidence about the race day and please don’t forget that a marathon is a celebration of your effort and commitment after a long journey, so dress your best, smile and enjoy this magical moment.
See you at the start line and GOOD LUCK!!
With running love,
Miram Jimenez, Miss Personal Trainer
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About the Guest Blogger
Miriam Jimenez, Sports Science Graduated, Personal Trainer Rep’s Level 3 and WM Running Coach. Trying to copy my dad ‘s example, I started running 15 years ago and now I can’t stop! Cross country and track was my focus, but now enjoy every challenge, specially marathons.
Find tips, advice and inspirational experiences about fitness and running on my personal blog called Miss Personal Trainer, also you can find me teaching Personal Training sessions around Greenwich or Chelsea, delivering Meet Runs to inspire runners of different levels as a WM Race ambassador at Olympic Park or training for new challenge at Ladywell Running Track. Feel free to join me and share Kms!