Marathon season is well and truly upon us. Every Monday (#medalmonday) my Instagram feed is crammed with more bling than a rapper’s jewellery box, and it only looks set to continue with thousands more runners taking on 26.2 miles over the next few months. Taking on a marathon is a mean feat, so I thought it wise to catch up with coach Tom Craggs and the team at Tribe Sports so that he could talk me through how to have the best race day possible.
Rise and Shine
The morning of a race can be nerve-wracking, so it’s a good idea to have a tried and tested routine in place that you know works. When it comes to breakfast now isn’t the time to try anything new, test out breakfast options throughout your training to see what works best for you, and make sure you’ve stocked up so you’ve got everything you need on the day. Likewise, race day isn’t the time to try new kit! Tempting as it is to have something ‘special’ for the big day, it’s better to go with a tried and tested option. Take into account the weather forecast and try to choose pieces that keep you cool and the air circulating. Tribe Sports has some awesome options, which also happen to look fantastic! Don’t forget that you’ll also need some chuck away layers to keep you warm as you travel to the start of the race.
Give Yourself Plenty of Time
You’ve had your breakfast, and one last wee, and its time to head to the start of the race. Aim to arrive 75 minutes before you’re due to start and once you’re there put a bubble around yourself so that you can focus on your race. Try to remember all the hard work you put in during training and focus on the positives.
And You’re Off
You’ve been bouncing from one foot to the other, nervous as hell, and then suddenly you’re moving! It’s hard to explain how quickly the first 10k of a marathon fly by, and it’s easy to get caught up in the adrenaline and go flying off. Don’t. Stick to your pacing plan and let everyone run away from you. It’s really important to manage your pace so that you’ve got fuel in the tank for the rest of the race, and don’t worry you’ll be overtaking them in the last few miles.
Stick to the Plan
This is a bit of a theme, but hey you’ve got a plan for a reason! Try to stick to the plan and keep your pace within the range you decided at the outset so that you don’t crash out later. The same goes for your fuelling strategy, make sure you stick to your plan and that you’re replenishing your energy stores before you feel like you really need to, because by then it’s too late.
When the Going Gets Rough
Marathons are hard, and the race is going to feel tough. After all, if they were easy then everyone would do them. Don’t stress if you feel jaded or your legs are a bit tired, this is totally normal and you can get through it, but you need to trust your training.
We’ve all heard about the wall, and it’s a terrifying prospect for any runner. No one builds a wall in the marathon, and it’s not inevitable that you’re going to hit it. The wall is created by either going too fast or a poor taper, so it pays to pay attention to your pace! You also need to remember that you’ve got the choice to keep going. The key limiting factor in endurance running is our minds, so you need to develop strategies to help you cope. There are all sorts of ways you can keep focused and build your confidence when the going gets tough – picking off other runners, dedicating your miles to special people who you can’t let down, disassociation (like counting to 100 over and over), reciting mantras and talking yourself up, as well as centering yourself and focusing on what your body is doing. Different things work for different people, and it’s worth testing a range of approaches during your long runs to see what works.
You can do this. It might not be easy, but even if your nervous you’ll get there because it means something to you!