LGN Run Club's Top Ten pre marathon race day tips

Monday, 9th April 2012

LGN Run Club's Top Ten marathon tips

Welcome to LGN’s top 10 marathon tips, these come from real life experiences of LGN's running passionate Run Club trainers, including those in our team aiming for Olympic marathon qualifying times and benefiting from the latest research via Team GB training camp expertise. We hope it helps makes your marathon experience sweeter and provides smile inducing running memories to last a lifetime.
Setting the scene
The time is almost nigh, you have trained like a Trojan, so it is important you start to plan and embrace some of the pre race practicalities and logistics that are very often overlooked and can sometimes render your fantastic training investment redundant on race day.
1. Fuel
Vital you arrive on the start line with full glycogen reserves, most experiences of ‘hitting the wall’ are down to people running out of fuel. Ensure you have excellent low GI breakfast (Porridge is the choice of many world record holders) and prepare easily digestible snacking food to take with you en route to race.
Have an eating plan for the race and stick to it, eat more than you think you need during the race - each sports gel contains approx 25g of carbs which will give you a 30 minute energy window, thus for 4 hour goal you need to think about 8 gels or equivalent race fuel... perhaps more than you had planned?
Remember the LGN mantra of pre-empt, pre-empt and pre-empt.
2. Hydration
As per above with fuel, we need you to arrive on the start line beautifully hydrated. Hydration does not just mean water, but importantly all the essential electrolytes and salts that assist with muscle function. It can take up to 48 hours to hydrate fully to a cellular level, so drinking copious amounts of water before that start can often merely flood your kidneys, dilute your essential
electrolytes and actually lead to de-hydration.
Consider drinking little amounts but often at least one week prior to race day, again pre-empt is the watchword, your thirst mechanism generally only tells you when you are already de-hydrated. Research indicates maximum hydration uptake at 0.4 – 0.8
litres per hour, so you just need to keep sipping at each water station to top up your nicely pre hydrated body– simples.
3. The start
Family watching on TV, good luck cards adorning your mantelpiece at home ensures plenty of adrenalin, this coupled possibly with caffeine often means many people will be running too fast at the start of the race. This is further amplified at the London Marathon where the opening 6-7 miles are very slightly downhill.
Be the one person who is not dictated to by the crowd and stick to your own pace and or find an official pacemaker to help guide you through the opening miles.
4. Write it down
The day of the race with be an exhilarating adrenalin fueled day, don’t try to remember anything important on race day itself, write your to-do list several days before and make more than one copy.
5. Toilet paper
Take some, sounds low tech and indeed it is, but can be a vital comfort blanket knowing you will not get caught short prior to the starting gun going off.
6. Toe nails
Aim to trim your toe nails 7 days prior to race day, we need to make sure they are not too long (catching ends of your shoes) and reduce risk of infection should you accidently trim them a tad too close, we have all done it.
7. Sleep
Muscle function and recovery is intrinsically linked with sleep, your body produces Human Grwowth Hormone while you sleep the very same thing sporting drug cheats inject.... thus sleep is very important and Paula Radcliffe aims for 11 hours per day.
Expect that the night before marathon day, you may well be too excited sleep normally and factor in the fact you will be getting up at possibly 5.30 / 6am. Therefore aim to sleep at least one hour longer than your norm for the three days prior to your big 26 mile day to allow for this possibility.
8. Nothing new
Quite simply, on race day do not eat, drink or wear any item of clothing that you have not previously tested on your longest run.
The lucky pants Aunt Beryl bought you might feel majestic on a gentle jog round the block, but 18 miles into race day and with a mild case of ‘salt rub’, you may wish you stuck to what you knew. Same goes for taking fuel during race, Lucozade for example is the London Marathon’s chosen product, so if you want use their services, make sure you have tested the products previously.
Keep to trusted & known running kit - please excuse shameless LGN plug
9. Test run
As per the sleep headline above, getting up at 5.30am, eating a hearty low GI breakfast and then racing 26miles is not the same as eating toast at 9am and going out for your 10 or 15 mile Sunday run.
Practice at least once getting up at the same time you would on race day and eating breakfast and then running at race time, perhaps save for longest training run to best mimic marathon day.
10. Mental prep
You have trained to your best, eaten porridge like it’s going out of fashion, hydrated like a lord and have acquired the pace judgment of a metronome, however, do expect a few things out of your control to go not as planned on race day, this is natural with thousands running in a confined area. Remember it is a long race, with plenty of time to remedy an initial problem.
Some of you may remember BBC TV coverage of the toilet problems encountered by both Steve Jones & Paula Radcliffe in the final miles of the London Marathon in 1985 and 2005… and yet both still went on to victory.
Prepare for the unexpected and prepare to have a magical 26 mile day.
- Good luck from all the LGN team
Indeed we wish all LGN Run Club members and friends of LGN good luck in their respective 26 mile journey, happy running one and all!
Do a runner with LGN

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