5 tips for first time marathon runners
1. Taper your training
Taper your training three weeks prior to the race. With all those hours and miles of training under your belt, you will need to slowly tone down your weekly milage in order for your body to fully recover and for you to be ready for the marathon. I would recommend gradually decreasing your workout time but maintain training intensity each week leading up to the race. For example 75% three weeks in, 50% two weeks in and 25% one week in.
2. Knowledge is power
Become familiar with the race route. Break the race up into small bite size chunks and recce them individually during your training. Knowing the route will give you a massive psychological advantage come race day.
3. Hydration (don’t just drink water)
Dehydration is a big problem for many marathon runners. If you wait until you are feeling thirsty to drink, it will probably be to late. It takes around 20 mins for the body to absorb fluids, the American College of Sports Medicine (ASCM) recommends consuming between six – tweleve swallows of fluid every 15 to 20 mins when racing, especially in the heat. I would recommend speed walking or coming to a complete stop in drinks stations to drink. I would also advise alternating drinking water with isotonic sports drinks and electrolytes / magnesium drinks as these will help replace lost minerals and salts as well as bumping up your carbohydrate levels for working muscles.
Nutrition or lack off, can make or break your marathon. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as you will have fasted over night. Don’t change what you have for breakfast on race day too dramatically. I like to have a bowl of jumbo oats with soya milk, blueberries, small handful of brazil nuts and spoon of flaxseed before I race. It’s equally important to eat during the race otherwise you will crash or hit the wall. I like to eat between 1-2 cliff bars or power bars as I find these easy to eat whilst running, I may also have 1-2 sports gels either Hi-five or Lucozade sports fuel to give me that extra boost. Post race I would recommend having a sports bar high in carbohydrate, low in sugar and high in protein and then eat a main meal within 1-2 hours after the race.
5. Positive mental attitude
Be positive! There will be points in the marathon where your body will be shouting no more! and self doubt will be creeping in. This is when you need to stay focused and think positive thoughts. Put it all together on the day by being positive, remembering all the hard training that you’ve done and taking on board food and fluids and you will succeed.