Marathon season is here with Manchester, Paris, London and several others taking place over the next few weeks. If you’re taking part, the week leading up to a marathon is a critical part of the training process. If you get it right, you’ll be on the start line feeling fresh, but a major mistake could undo all that hard work. Here are ten tips to help you ensure that your final preparations go smoothly so that you’re raring to go come race day:
Don’t try anything new
You’ve been training for months. During this time you’ve practiced your nutrition and figured out what equipment works best for you. It’s really important that you don’t make any last minute changes that could potentially disrupt your performance. So don’t try any new foods or make alterations to your kit. Stick with what’s worked throughout the training process.
Resist the temptation to cram
More often than not during a programme, people miss sessions. Whether it’s due to injury, illness or perhaps a holiday, it does happen. The important thing is to let it go, and resist the temptation to make any last minute gains. Doing a long run or big hill session in the final week to ‘catch up’ is a very bad idea and will only prove to be detrimental! I wrote a full article on this topic which can be found here.
Try to get your mind off running
The lead up to the marathon can be a bit ‘run heavy’. People will inevitably ask you about the race, and the expo can be pretty full on. So during the week before, try to relax as much as possible and keep your mind on other things. Spend time with friends and family and avoid stressful situations where you can.
Don’t be an expo loiterer
Road race expos are an inevitable part of major marathons. If you’ve never been to one, they often involve dozens and dozens of stools marketing anything from trainers to energy bars to upcoming races. They can be chaotic (particularly the day before a race) and as you want to avoid stressful situations and hours on your feet, my advice is get in, register and collect your race number then leave.
Take precautions by getting plenty of rest, avoiding alcohol and staying hydrated. It’s also a good idea to carry around a bottle of hand sanitiser if you want to be extra cautious.
Make a conscious effort to get sufficient sleep
Compared to one of your peak weeks, the time you spend training during the final few days will be very low. So use this time to relax and get plenty of sleep. Plan to be in bed at a reasonable time and do all you can to ensure good sleep throughout the run up.
Ensure you’re organised
You don’t want to be wasting energy when you really don’t need to. Get all your food in and plan what you’re going to eat during the days preceding the race, and make a kit list so you can prepare all your equipment in plenty of time.
Practice race pace
Whilst you would’ve done your longer runs at slower than race speed and you may have carried out some tempo runs a little quicker, it’s a good idea to do some short runs at race pace during the final week. It will provide you with that final reminder of what your pace should feel like.
Look over your training log
Doing this the night before can be a useful thing to do. It’s a reminder that you’ve done all the hard work, your preparations have been thorough, and you’re ready to go out there and do what you’ve been training for.
Let’s be honest, running a marathon is a big deal (particularly if it’s your first) so there will inevitably be nerves in the lead up. However, if you let your nerves take over you will be mentally fatigued on the start line. So when an anxious moment occurs, acknowledge it but then try to push it to one side and think about something else. For a full article on handling nerves, click here.
Good luck with your upcoming race. Do your very best to relax, smile and enjoy it!