You've done the hard miles and you're into the tapering period of your training. All you can do now is rest and finalise your preparations so the big day can go off without a hitch. We asked Asics Frontrunner Holly Rush to tell us the essential things you should be doing in the two weeks before your marathon.
So it’s nearly upon us….we're only a couple of weeks from the big day. All the weeks and months of training has been done and all we can do now is put the final preparation in place, not overdo it and not get ill! Easier said than done but this is when ‘maranoia’ creeps in and we can do silly things because we are in a flap.
So here are the final preparation tips that I have learnt over my 20 years of running and more than 40 marathons bagged.
Race day kit list
Have you got all your kit ready in advance and is it all tried and tested? If you need to replace your shoes then do it now and not a minute later. Wear your familiar socks, make sure there are no itchy labels that will rub on that sports bra. Practice running in all your race day kit. Be mindful that the weather could be warmer or colder than expected so be prepared for all conditions. Also, think about the warm kit you will wear to the start and for afterwards.
Have you practised with the gels you are planning to use? Have you checked what sort of refreshments and fuel is going to be available on the course and have you tried it beforehand? I have ruined so many races because of stomach issues! Also, have you thought about how you are going to carry your gels, food and fluid? How often will you take on your energy? Check the race website for feed stations.
Do you have a plan? This is super-important. So many people go off too hard (this isn’t just a beginner thing…believe me elites do this a lot!!). You should know from training and racing what you think you are capable of running on race day. Stick to this pace and if you think you can push on then save it for the last 10k. The second half is always going to feel a hell of a lot harder than the first. You will feel fresh after your taper and it’s so easy to get carried away when the gun goes but when that large elephant jumps on your back at 18 miles it’s going to hurt like hell and you will have wished you had stuck to the plan at the beginning. Pace bands are a really good idea and are usually available at the marathon expos.
Always allow more time than you think to get to the start. Will you be using public transport or do you need to book car parking? Remember there will be lots of people trying to get to the start at the same time. If you plan to meet friends and family at the finish make a plan in advance at a nearby landmark. Make sure your mobile is fully charged!!
Eat, Drink and Sleep Well
This sounds obvious I know but it’s something that we can easily neglect. Ensure you get as much sleep the week of the race because you probably won’t get much the night before the race. Drink little and often throughout the week and don’t deviate much from your usual diet. Keep your food colourful, drink plenty of water and add some electrolyte in the last 2 days. Don’t overeat the night before the race….your tummy won't thank you for this on race day and don’t eat too late. I like to have my main meal at lunchtime the day before. If you stick to your taper and don't change your eating pattern through the week your energy levels should be fully topped up. There is no need to stuff your face with loads of carbs!
So you have prepared your body but your mind needs to be prepared too. Take some time the week of the race to visualise yourself at different parts of the course and at the finish. Don’t think of the race as one long block, divide it into sections. I like to think of if it as my 10k morning run and nothing more. The last 10k is going to hurt but it’s just about hanging in there and getting it done. Remember why you signed up to do this challenge and your true motivation.
If you have been followed your training schedule you should be tapering now. This time is about reducing volume but still keeping some intensity. This period should leave you feeling fresh and ready to run on the day. Resist the temptation to cram extra training in as this really won’t give you any gains but just leave you more fatigued.
Control the Controllable
Don’t panic! All you can do is not mess up the things you are in control of. If the weather is horrible or something happens at work there is nothing you can do about it but you can control what you eat and what you wear so just enjoy and smile when you see the cameras!