Marathon season is well upon us and Melbourne Marathon is soon to be under way. So for those who are about to embark on the long distance goal, here are some final tips to accomplishing your feat.
Race Pack Collection: If you have not managed to have your race packs delivered to you then make time to go and collect it during the week. Most likely this goal is something you have been working towards for some time, use your annual leave or lunch break to pick up the pack early so you are not left lining up on race day.
Tapering: Enjoy your tapering period! Make the most of your rest time and reduction in activity. Stay active, keep the legs ticking over but you’ve done the hard yards now its time for rest and fuel.
Sleep: Make more time for sleep and daytime naps; if your feeling as though you need that extra rest take it! That being said, try to be in-tune with your body and don’t head to bed too early which may leave you tossing and turning all night.
Check Weather: Look at the seven-day forecast and begin to make decisions on clothing and best transport options to suit traffic and weather conditions.
Pre-Race Fuelling: Start fuelling for the race, low GI foods in small servings to help build on glycogen stores within the muscles and good quality fats and proteins should be consumed.
Prepare Mentally – Visualise your race! Begin to think about how you’ll feel at certain land marks, picture the starting line and the hustle and bustle as you try not to trip over each other’s feet. Repeat your mantra as you begin to hit the wall and watch how you rise above the challenge. Mental Imagery is a powerful tool for these events.
Travel Options – Travel options and accommodation can be a big choice to make for these events. Some people decide to stay and motels close-by while others stay at home and decided to make an early morning trip. Car parking can be difficult and road involved in and surrounding the event are commonly closed hours before the start of the event.
Old Clothes – Marathon events will commonly kick off in the early morning, commonly well before 9am to avoid the hottest part of the day. It is a good idea to bring some old clothes to wear over your running gear or purchase clothes from the op shop which can be left at the starting line but keep you warm before the race.
** many foundations have an agreement with the event organisers to collect these clothes after everyone has begun the race and be used for charity.
Organisation – Once you have all your equipment, lay it out and double check everything from socks to race fuel and make sure you have everything you need. The last thing you want is to be overthinking the night before a race.
Fuelling up – Do not try anything new on race day. Keep you fibre low and make sure you have plenty of low GI foods for breakfast. Take a snack with you for the pre-race hungers as there is usually as reasonable gap between when you leave the house and when you touch the starting line.
Equipment – In the week leading up to the race you should have had all your equipment bought, laid out and ticked off to make sure you had all the necessities. Ensure your fuel belt is tight but comfortable and be prepared to tighten further throughout the race as you lose water weight and it slips gradually from your hips. Have a hat or visor to reduce your head sweat reaching your eyes.
Complete a final check and your ready to go!
Focus – If you have been mentally preparing for this event in your tapering week focus should come easy to your up-coming challenge. Make sure be for the event you relax, make yourself comfortable and shake out some of those last jitters. Focus will come in waves throughout the event and you need to be aware of when the best time to switch on is. In my opinion this should be about 5-10min before the starting-gun fires.
Warm up – Traditionally at marathons or big run carnivals there is a celebrity who get roped in to take a generically fun warm up for participants that is met with mediocre enthusiasm. Complete your own warm up before heading to the starting line, have you muscles activating and primed for activity and your heart rate elevated ready to meet your big challenge.
Race Expo – Avoid the race expo on race day until you have finished the race. The expo isn’t going anywhere fast and there is a good chance they have been set up in the 24-48hrs leading into the race so if you were that eager to talk to someone you have had plenty of time to do so. Your focus should be what ahead of you and not the gimmicks of the sales crew for favourite active wear.
Body Glide/Vaseline – If you haven’t worked out that painful chaffing comes hand in hand with long distance running then have you really been training hard enough? Then use of Band-Aids and thick lubricants like Vaseline are a godsend to reduce the raw burning of skin on skin friction.
Hydrate – Many athletes try to develop a hydration plan. They aim to drink so many millilitres over a certain amount of kilometres to reduce their need to go to the bathroom but not become dehydrated. In theory this is a great practice but in reality for many runners it simply does not work as effectively as they may hope. Small sips of water or sports drink in between drink stations will allow you to stay hydrated – sometimes the bathroom is inevitable.
Stay Fuelled up – with breakfast building the base of your fuel stores it is important to maintain this energy with small snacks throughout the run. The choice of energy varies between runners; energy gels, energy drinks, chocolate covered coffee beans or lollies are just a few of the choices.
Build a Mantra – When I completed the Melbourne Marathon my mantra was taken directly from Dean Karnazes quote “If you cant run – walk, if you cant walk – crawl, just never give up”. This came in most handy at the 38km mark when my entire body began to cramp and I literally had to hobble to the next drink station and down as much blue energy drink as I could get my hands on. The point is find an inspiring sentence to keep you going.
Toilet – Toilet lines are at the longest in the first couple of kilometres. If you are able to hold off until greater space is created throughout the field and make it to the next toilet block then do so but, don’t try and push on if you think it’s a necessity. If you do, you commonly see one of two things happening; increased gastrointestinal distress or a police fine for sneaking off into the bushes. It may be an event but its still a public place!
Small Wins – Try not to focus on individual kilometres too much. Look at the map early and think of landmarks or break the course down into sections before you compete. Pick up a cup from a drink station, smash down half of it and throw the cup toward the closest bin, it’s surprising how much hitting the target will lift you.
Encourage Others – Getting involved with others during a race and encouraging them as you travel up a hill or if they look like they are struggling does two things; its helps lift their spirits but it also lifts yours as you genuinely help someone toward their goal.
If this is your first marathon, then make the most of it! Enjoy it! Embrace the crowd, the sites and the sounds. Focus on your goal but unless your trying to clock under 3 hours then you can look to relax a little. That calming approach may actually work in your benefit by the end.
Until Next Time
Director/ Chief Editor