It’s going to be a fantastic day : the crowds cheering you on, the atmosphere, the adrenalin and you knowing that you’ve done enough training and more to cover the distance and cross that line smiling, and you certainly will !! But, there’s still a lot you need to do right on marathon day. Here are a few race day tips – don’t race without them.
Remember, there have been days when you thought you couldn’t run a marathon – but there will be a lifetime knowing that you have – impossible is nothing.
1. DON’T DO ANYTHING NEW. It’s not the time for new shoes, drink or food, new clothes or anything else that you haven’t used before.
2. EAT BREAKFAST. You won’t have eaten for eight to ten hours. In that time your glycogen levels will have depleted. If you don’t have a high carbohydrate breakfast you’ll be in trouble at 20 miles. Bananas, bagels, toast (wholemeal), porridge, Weetabix, energy bars are all good.
3. RELAX. You’ll feel sluggish on the morning of the marathon and probably in the days leading up to it. That’s perfectly normal during the taper. Trust your training – the programme that you’ve followed, works and it’ll work for you too. Make a list of everything you need for the race, pack it the night before – get to the race an hour before the start.
The difference between the impossible and the possible is called determination
4. KEEP IT LIGHT. It’ll be cool in the morning of the start so don’t wear too much. For a start, it’s extra weight and you’ll sweat more than you want too. As soon as you start you’ll warm up about ten degrees and don’t forget, the day will get warmer. You need clothes that will allow you some heat loss, but not too much that you become cold.
Never put limits on yourself
5. STOP CHAFING. Every part of your body that can chafe, will. To stop this, don’t wear anything, shoes, socks and clothing that has raised seams. Wear your race day gear at least two or three times before the race on your training runs. Also, on the day use Vaseline in the key locations, armpits, nipples and inner thighs. Cut your toe nails before the race.
6. THE SUN. If it’s sunny you’ll be in it long enough to get burned. Use a sunscreen.
If you want to win something, run 100 metres – if you want to experience something, run a marathon
7. GET A FIX. Caffeine will give you higher levels of beta-endorphines and a lower perceived effort. A couple of cups of the black stuff ( not Guinness – although you can have a pint the night before and probably several afterwards ! ) about an hour and a half before the race or even caffeine tablets, 7 mgs per kg of bodyweight. Caffeine has a half life of five hours so that should take you through the race.
8. TANK UP. Drink about half a pint of water just before the start. This will trick your kidneys as they mostly shut down once you start running hard.
Ask yourself – can I give more ? The answer is usually – yes !
9. WARM UP. Keep it short as you want to save energy. You’ll run better if you loosen up your leg muscles first. Warm up just to the point of a very light sweat.
10. MAKE IT EVEN. Run an even pace. The best marathons are run when you feel that you have run too slowly for the first five to ten miles.
Pain is temporary – quitting is final
11. MORE THAN A DROP. Every drop of fluid helps maintain the blood flow to your skin, heart and muscles. Running slows the absorption of fluids, so start drinking early, after four to five miles.
12. FIX IT. As soon as you get some grit in your shoe or your lace comes undone, deal with it straight away. Thing’s don’t go away on their own.
13. GEL IT. Sports drinks are good but gels are more concentrated – very useful in the last half of the marathon. Try it before the race though.
14. STITCH IT. A stitch starts in the abdomen so exhale forcefully. Stamp down hard with your foot on the opposite side to the stitch. Raise your arms above your head. These all help to stretch the abdomen.
15. DRAFT IT. Tuck in behind somebody, it’s very efficient. Don’t follow too closely though. Better still, agree to take turns leading so you’re working together. It’s great too, if you are following a nice bum !!
Get up and walk if you have to, but finish the bloody race
16. CROWD IT. Use the crowds, they’re in awe of you. Print your name on your T shirt. It’s far better to hear ‘ well done Peter ‘ than ‘ well done the man with white hair ‘
17. MILK IT. Make the most of the atmosphere – it’s fantastic.
18. RELAX IT. Relax on the inclines, there aren’t many on the course, but put the effort into the flats and the declines. Don’t worry if people pass you on the hills, you’ll overtake them later after they’ve wasted their effort.
By training the way the have, you have found the hero inside yourself
19. DRINK IT. If you hit the wall, it means your body has run out of glycogen and you’re using fat for energy. You might feel weak, dizzy, sick and disorientated. Take an energy gel or a sports drink and keep moving. However, and it’s a very big however – if you’ve done the training : YOU HAVE, and more – if you stay hydrated throughout the race with water and sports drinks : YOU WILL – if you pay attention to these tips : YOU WILL, then you’ll cross that line and think – what wall !!!
20. BELIEVE IT. You’ve put your body and mind through a hell of lot over many weeks. You’ve been there and done it and somebody is going to put a medal round your neck to prove it to you, your family and your friends. Believe in yourself.
Chances of finishing – 100%
Chances of not trying – 0%
Impossible is nothing