With the London Marathon just days away, and Worcester's Full & Half Marathon around the corner (Sunday 19th May), as proud sponsors, we've collected 26 Marathon tips to ensure you smash this year runs!
“Finishing a marathon isn't just an athletic achievement. It's a state of mind; a state of mind that says anything is possible."
26 Marathon tips
1. Look down. Select the shoes–and the socks–you'll wear in the marathon. The shoes should be relatively lightweight but provide good support, and the socks should be the type you wear in other races.
2. Mimic the course. If at all possible, start doing runs on the same landscape as the marathon. (A flat course might seem less challenging, but its lack of variation means you'll be using the same muscles the whole race. You need to prepare for this.) If you live in a flat area and are preparing for a hilly marathon, do several runs on a treadmill, and alter the incline throughout. If you don't have access to a treadmill, run on stairways or stadium steps.
3. Dress the part. Don't run the marathon in a cotton T-shirt. You'll run easier in running clothes, such as those made of Coolmax or nylon. Once you've picked your marathon outfit, make sure it doesn't irritate your skin. Run before the race in the marathon clothes to see if they feel comfortable.
4. Don't get greedy. Training for a marathon isn't like cramming for a test. That is, doing more miles than you're used to in the last few weeks will hurt–not help–your race. Even if you're feeling great, don't up the ante and increase your training. Draw strength from the hard work you've put in. Have confidence in what you've been doing. From here on out, you're just maintain your fitness, and get plenty of sleep.
5. Run a dress rehearsal. Four or five days before the marathon, do a two- or three-mile marathon-pace run in your marathon outfit and shoes. Picture yourself on the course running strong and relaxed. Besides boosting your confidence, this run will provide one last little bit of conditioning and will help you lock in to race pace on marathon day.
6. Run like a clock. If possible, run at the same time of day as the start of your marathon. This way, your body's rhythms–including the all-important bathroom routine–will be in sync with marathon needs come race day.
7. Set two goals. Review your training and set one goal for a good race day, and another as a backup plan in case it's hot or windy or you're just not feeling great. So many things can go wrong in a marathon that you need that second goal to stay motivated
8. See success. On several nights before going to bed, or first thing in the morning, visualise yourself crossing the finish line as the clock shows a new personal best.
9. Chill out. Reduce the outside stresses in your life as much as possible the last week. Try to have work projects under control, politely decline invitations to late nights out, and so on. Most of all, stay off your feet–save museum tours and shopping sprees for after the marathon.
10. Carbo-load, don't fat-load. During the last three days, concentrate on eating carbohydrate-rich foods, such as pasta, potatoes, bread, fruit and fruit juice, low-fat milk and yogurt, low-fat treats, and sports drinks. It's the carbs, not fat or protein that will fuel you on race day.
11. Do with what you know. Even if an Olympic Marathon medalist appears on your front porch dispensing advice, don't try anything radical this week. Stick to your plan and what you've practiced during your build-up. At this point, also ignore any "can't-miss" diet tricks from friends. Feel comfortable with what you're doing rather than trying something new and worrying how it will affect you.
12. Eat breakfast. Two to three hours before the start, eat a carbohydrate-rich breakfast, even if that means getting up an hour earlier and going back to bed. The reason: As you slept, your brain was active and using the glycogen (stored carbohydrate) from your liver. Breakfast restocks those stores, so you'll be less likely to run out of fuel. Aim for a few hundred calories, such as a bagel and banana or toast and a sports bar.
13. Warm up. But just a little. Even the best marathoners in the world do only a little jogging beforehand, because they want to preserve their glycogen stores and keep their core body temperature down. If you're a faster runner with a goal pace significantly quicker than your training pace, do no more than 10 minutes of light jogging, finishing 15 minutes before the start. Precede and follow your jog with stretching. If you'll be running the marathon at about your training pace, skip the jog. Walk around a bit in the half hour before the start, and stretch.
14. Collect yourself. An hour before the start, find a quiet place, and spend five minutes reviewing your race plan and motivation. Take confidence in the months of effort behind you. An exciting and satisfying day is just ahead of you! If you're running the race with a training partner, make it a group session: Share your goals with each other for mutual reinforcement.
15. Line up loose. Fifteen minutes before the start, begin some gentle stretching. Concentrate on the muscles of the back side of your body–your calves, hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Remember, your goal is to start the race comfortably. Try to keep stretching after you've been herded to the start area. Jog in place as well, to keep your heart rate slightly elevated.
16. Start slow. Run the first two to three miles slightly slower than goal pace. This preserves glycogen stores for later in the race so you can finish strong.
17. Relax. In the first 10 miles, look around at the surroundings, the fans along the way, and enjoy the changing scenery. Have a relaxing time, whether you are there for competition or fun. At some point throughout the race take a break from the intense focusing, and relax your mind. This will give you more concentration and focus when needed towards the end of the race.
18. Think laps, not miles. Also to make it more manageable mentally look at each three-mile segment as a lap, instead of looking at each individual mile.
19. Play games. Pick a song and try to sing it from start to finish. Try solve mathematical problems and calculate exactly what percentage of the race you have done. It will occupy the mind.
20. Drink early, drink often. Take sports drink at the first aid station and every one after. Taking in carbohydrates and fluid early will help postpone or prevent serious dehydration or carbohydrate depletion later, so you'll be a lot more likely to maintain your pace.
21. Go hard late. No matter how much you're raring to go, keep things under control until well past the halfway mark. Then you can start racing. Focus on a runner who is 100 yards ahead of you, pass her, then move on to your next victim.
22. Count to 100. It's important not to panic and to keep focused. Use little techniques to make yourself think about the moment, whether it's singing to yourself, counting landmarks or counting in your head - anything. Paula Radcliffe used to count to 100 then she knew a mile had passed, this helped her break down hard parts of a marathon into smaller chunks.
23. Fresh feet. Take a fresh pair of socks and footwear, possibly flip flops, to change into after the race. The feeling of fresh air on your feet will feel amazing after working them so hard running a marathon.
24. Don’t be afraid to walk. For someone who just wants to complete the race, don't be afraid to walk. It's better to walk a little bit rather than push yourself then become ill or injured. Don’t worry if you’re 30 seconds behind your target, you can always try again next year.
25. Check the weather. Be prepared for any eventuality, whether it’s amazing sun or torrential rain. Take some time to research what's involved with running in the hot, cold, or rainy conditions. Ensure you take on plenty of water so you don’t dehydrate in the heat.
26. Adopt a good running style suited to you. Before you even begin to train, assess your posture and seek to do the right thing from the outset. While there is no single correct way to hold yourself, you should aim to be relaxed and to hold your torso upright and your spine straight.
Hewett Recruitment are proud sponsors of Tempo Events' Worcester Full & Half Marathon, in aid of St Richards Hospice.
We'll be there at the finish line, cheering on runners, offering water and giving out the well-deserved medals!
We look forward to seeing you there!