1. Don’t try and do more Training
If you have missed some training runs in previous weeks don’t try and fit it in now. It will not have an effect on your training now. It is too soon before the Marathon and you can end up injuring yourself or getting too tired.
2. Prepare mentally
In the week before the marathon, when you are doing less training and nerves are kicking it is natural to start thinking negatively and over analysing your training, injuries, nutrition etc. Try walking for 30-40 minutes instead of running. This is your opportunity to prepare mentally. Think of all the positive things you have achieved, how much training you have done the total miles you have run. Think how much fitter you are, the benefits to your mental and physical health. Think of the enjoyment you will get (when you finish). Unless you are injured and you are deferring until next year, you are going to be on the start line!
Start mentally walking through how you are going to achieve every one of the 26.2 miles (42 km) one at a time.
The race is the final part of the training.
Don’t just sit around and preserve energy as your body is used to moving. Do some light runs or walking the days before the race for 30-40 minutes. Exactly what you did before your long runs that worked for you.
3. Sleep is important.
Focus on your sleep. Plan what time you eat and go to bed so you are ready for an early start on Sunday morning. Get some quality sleep during the week. You will be nervous the night before the race, it is totally natural. If you don’t get a good night’s sleep on Saturday night, it is not the end of the world. Don’t catastrophise. You are still going to run well.
4. Don’t eat too many carbs
It is easy to overeat. Eat normally, don’t overeat carbohydrates the night before. Storing carbohydrate requires more storage of water so you can end up feeling heavy and bloated if you eat too much. Stay off the alcohol.
On race day, what you eat for breakfast depends on the individual. Ideally you should have tried out what to eat before long training runs. Don’t try to eat something new and discover it makes you need the toilet during the race. By now you will know what works and doesn’t work for you. Stick to it.
5. Check the weather forecast for Race day.
Make sure you are prepared for the cold weather in the morning, rain or sun. It may be cold in the morning and when you are waiting around for the race to begin. Wear enough clothing to keep you warm and dry. Take some old running gear that you can discard when the race begins. All of the clothing is collected and distributed to charity. Think of layers on top of your running kit.
6. On Race Day
You need to warm-up before the marathon but you don’t want to be expending a significant amount of energy. Do enough to get your muscles warm and ready to start, and use the first mile or two as part of the warm up don’t stand around do nothing before the start.
7. Running Kit
Don’t wear anything brand new on race day. You know what is comfortable for you and stick with what you know. Make sure you know how it feels and that it’s not going to rub or chafe. Prepare the tender bits with Vaseline (there are other brands of petroleum jelly!) Where do you normally feel it? Nipples, feet, inner thighs, under arms and the inside of your biceps?
8. If you hit the wall
Hitting the wall happens in a marathon when your body runs out of fuel and, although it doesn’t happen to everyone, it’s a very common problem. Re-fuelling will help but again, make sure you use nutrition you’ve tried in training so as not to upset your stomach.
If you find yourself struggling mentally, walk a few minutes and then run a minute. Use this as a strategy to recover. Set yourself small goals like getting to the next drinks station or moving your legs and arms. Focus on the end goal.
9. Don’t get carried away
Don’t peak too early and don’t get carried away by the crowd and other runners going to quickly in the beginning, stick to your plan for the course and see how you feel half way. The weather can be unpredictable, so plan for it. Use the feeding stations but don’t use drinks or energy gels you haven’t tested before. If you feel tired start walk – running at regular intervals.
Enjoy it, London is one of the world’s greatest marathons and the support from the spectators is really incredible so let the energy of the crowds spur you on.
10. Start Recovering Straight Away
What you do after a race makes a massive difference to your recovery. You need to eat and drink something within 30 minutes of crossing the line to rehydrate and refuel. Something like a protein and carb recovery drink is ideal.
Don’t go straight to the pub! You will be dehydrated already so take your time to refuel and recover.
Muscle soreness can be a problem in the days following a marathon but an ice bath or light exercise and walking will really help. Non-impact activity flushes out waste products from the muscles and prevents stiffness.