4 Top Tips For Preparing for the London Marathon
Dating back to 1981, the London Marathon is one of the most prestigious long-distance races in the world, attracting thousands of runners from all over the world to participate in the event. The event participants range from elite athletes, such as the men’s world record holder Eliud Kipchoge and women’s record holder Brigid Kosgei, to everyday athletes clubbing together to raise millions for various charities each year.
If you’re currently training for London Marathon, you will know all too well that to prepare, runners need to go through rigorous training. Now the big day is fast approaching, there are a few things you should do in the final month of preparations to put yourself in the best position to smash it!
4 top tips to allow you to step up to that start line strong:
1. Schedule your longest training run
Most marathon training plans schedule a 20 miler (or 32-kilometres) run around 4 weeks before race day. Doing so 4 weeks before is important for several reasons.
Firstly, it gives you time to adjust your training if needed. If you found it really challenging or had any issues during the run, you’ll have time to address those problems and make adjustments to your training plan ahead of race day.
Secondly, running a long distance takes a huge toll on your body, and it requires plenty of time to recover. Doing your longest run a month before the race allows you enough time to recover fully before the race day. This is important because you definitely don’t want to be too fatigued or risk injury on race day!
Lastly, completing your longest run a month before the race can give you a much-needed confidence boost. You’ll have a better idea of what to expect on race day, and you’ll know that you can run the distance. This can help to alleviate or at least reduce pre-race jitters and nerves.
2. Make sure you give yourself enough time to taper
Tapering is a very important part of marathon training. The marathon taper is a delicate balance of maintaining fitness whilst promoting recovery. Tapering means reducing the volume of your weekly training distance during the final weeks leading up to the marathon, whilst also focusing on recovery to ensure that you are fully rested and ready for race day.
Most training plans start tapering after the longest run, around 3 weeks before the big day.
Do not fear that cutting back on training will affect your performance on race day though – it is a vital part of the process. Although the volume and intensity of your workouts are reduced during the taper, you’ll still be maintaining your fitness levels.
Tapering will also help to combat mental fatigue and give you a fresh burst of energy. It also provides an opportunity to focus on mental preparation for the marathon – including visualisation, positive self-talk, and goal setting. This will help you arrive with fresh legs and a determined mindset on marathon day…just what you need to keep you going through the race’s final stages.
3. Test your kit and any gear you plan to use on race day
Test out every item of your race day kit during your long runs. Make sure all items fit, feel comfortable and will match the suggested weather conditions. If it’s going to be sunny, try out things like sunglasses and a running cap to ensure you are comfortable with any items you may use on race day.
Running shoes need to be replaced every 300 to 400 miles (500 to 700 km). On race day itself, it’s not a good idea to run in brand-new shoes or old shoes. If you’re thinking of buying new ones, now is the time, as they’ll be worn for a couple of your long runs but they’ll still be fresh for the marathon. The last thing you want on race day is painful blisters!
4. Fuel your body right and map out your race-day nutrition
A balanced diet is essential for runners, as it provides the necessary nutrients to support your training and recovery. As your training volume increases, so will your appetite and it is important to ensure you are fuelling your body as best as possible, to keep yourself in tip-top condition. Ensure your total calorie intake is appropriate based on your expenditure.
Avoid junk and highly processed foods – make sure you’re getting plenty of variety from whole food sources and cut down on your alcohol consumption.
Proper hydration is also essential during marathon training. Ensure you’re drinking enough water and/or sports drinks to replace fluids lost through sweat.
Make sure you know what you’re going to eat before and during the marathon and plan out the timing of any food and gels. On your final long run days, pretend it’s the real thing – eat the same things before and during your run and try to time it with the time of the race itself e.g. if the race is in the morning, do you long run in the morning.
Never introduce new things on race day, as this may have an unwanted (and potentially uncomfortable) effect! Avoid caffeine and too much fibre in your pre-race brekkie, as this could cause some stomach discomfort.
During the race, aim to consume 30-60 grams of carbohydrates per hour, depending on your body weight and intensity level. This can come from sports drinks, gels, chews, or other easily digestible sources of carbohydrates. Try to avoid relying on what the race offers, and pack your own fuel – fuel you have tested and run with before.
In conclusion, preparing for a marathon requires dedication, consistency, and hard work. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of success and enjoy a memorable experience on race day. Good luck and go and smash it!