By Tom Heeley
You will be nervous and excited on the morning of your marathon, so you want to avoid any extra stress.
Get all your race kit laid out the night before and make sure you know how and when you are going to get to the start area. Check parking or public transport details, find out where the toilets are and arrange where you will meet your loved ones after the race. Make sure to have tried the shoes you are running in well before the race!
It is very easy to get carried away because you will feel rested and full of energy from your tapering, the adrenaline will be flowing and you will be surrounded by other runners.
The important thing is to try and focus on running your own race. It doesn’t matter if your first 2-3 miles are slightly slower than your goal pace – it is better to grow into the race and conserve your energy for the latter miles, than ending up hitting ‘The Wall’ early on, so be calm, relaxed and stay patient.
Running a marathon requires a huge amount of energy (around 2600 calories), so your race day nutrition is absolutely crucial. Your breakfast should be carbohydrate based and something you have tried and tested during your training – good examples are porridge or toast. Make sure you plan when and where you will eat, especially if staying in a hotel.
Make sure you are hydrated well in advance of the start, ideally drink electrolytes or water. There are drinks stations along the course, so even if it is a cold day you need to make sure you take on fluids to stay hydrated.
Break it Down
Running a marathon is as much a mental challenge as it is physical. Depending on your training plan, for most people the marathon itself will be the furthest you have ever run before.
One really effective way to make it less daunting is to picture lots of smaller distances added together. So instead of thinking “I’ve still got 20 miles to go”, try visualising one of your regular training runs and set yourself milestones to tick off along the way.
You could focus on sets of three miles for example and just imagine running your local parkrun. You could think of running from one London sight to another. At the half-way stage, you can just picture turning around and running back to the start.
Once you get to 20 miles, there is only 10km to go. Maybe imagine the last 10k race you ran. Then, when there is just two to three miles to go, split them into quarter miles and imagine running laps of a track.
And once you get to 26 miles, you will probably be able to see the finish line and the adrenaline will kick in, so give it all you have got for a photo finish!
Yes, really! You may only run one marathon in your lifetime and you have worked for months to get to the start line so try to have fun.
Try to soak up everything the race has to offer, whether that be the Expo, chatting to other runners before the race, enjoying the music along the course, soaking up the atmosphere and the buzz of the crowds.
There will certainly be times in the race when you think: “Why on earth did I decide to do this?” – but the feeling of crossing that finish line and meeting your loved ones is the one of the proudest moments you will experience.
Whatever the outcome, just completing a marathon is something to be immensely proud of and nobody can ever take it away from you.
LIKE THIS? Then try ‘How to recover from a marathon’ by Lauren Dobson