So here we are. Only a few days left until the London Marathon 2014. Stress levels are probably increasing with every night as you lie awake wondering whether you are going to perform on the day. Here are a few last reminders and tips in the run up to the race…and the most important one for race day!
Training should be over by now. Even with a 1 week taper you should only have one more short run planned this week prior to Sunday. Keep it short and at race pace! This run is only to keep the legs ticking over rather than actually increasing fitness so late in the day. Tiring yourself out at this point is foolish. But what should you be doing other than this run? Relaxing. The past few months may have been pretty tiring with very little time to yourself or to socialise, so over the next few days you have the opportunity to get away from training and re charge. Go out and meet friends, watch TV and just kick back – there is nothing more that can be done. This is an opportunity to get some well-deserved rest so that you are at the start line on Sunday feeling better than you have done in months. There are however a few points to remember:
Try to avoid too much fatty food and alcohol. ‘Carbo loading’ is effective, but a common mistake is that people think that this means eating as much calorific food as possible. The issue is that fatty foods are not only hard to digest but will also leave you feeling sluggish. Keep it clean – you only have a few days left! Brown rice and pasta are good starting points. Alcohol will also only serve to dehydrate you as well as potentially leaving you feeling awful, I don’t think this needs to be explained any further….
Late nights should be avoided where possible. Get as much sleep as you can. Remember that the name of the game for the next few days is rest. Don’t let a big night out and an early morning kebab a couple of days before ruin all those months of hard training!
On the Day
There are numerous variables to take into account, staying hydrated, fuelling during the race and the temperature are but a few. In my experience there is one major point that you MUST keep in mind throughout the race……PACING. It is all too easy to let your adrenaline carry you through the first few miles way above your intended race pace. Trust me, you will pay for your sins later in the race!
Mile markers make it relatively easy to judge your pacing strategy, so work out how many minutes a mile you need to run and stick to it. This is a 26.2 mile race, so nobody cares how fast you took it out. The only thing that matters is the final time. DO NOT be goaded into keeping up with those that appear to be running faster than you through the first half of the race, you will most likely catch them up at mile 21 when they are walking. Your aim should be to keep your 10k splits as similar as possible over the course of the race, if not gradually increasing in pace. The negative split (running the second half slightly quicker than the first half) is the holy grail of pacing, although the unfortunate truth is that very few amateur runners manage this. Running on ‘feel’ can be very misleading during such a large event. Other runners, the crowd, and the event in general can make you feel far too good at the start of the race so bear this in mind. Just be sensible and stick to your plan. After all, the crowds do not start till the second half of the marathon so who are you trying to impress at the start?! Reap the benefits of reigning in your own enthusiasm as you speed past people in the final few miles.
Finally….enjoy the day. Running a marathon is a great achievement and the London Marathon is right up there with the best in the world. Smile for the cameras!