GP’s final countdown to the London Marathon
On Sunday, April 22nd, tens of thousands of lycra-clad enthusiasts will descend upon the capital’s streets to take part in one of its most famous, annual events: the London Marathon. It’s a true test of physical and mental strength – but ask any former participant and they’ll tell you, the feeling of euphoria they get when they cross that finish line is impossible to beat.
If you’re taking part in this year’s race, chances are you’re already weeks or months into your training programme. But the GP team thought it could be useful to offer some final preparation tips to make sure you’re in top race condition…
Arguably the scariest part of the training plan, your one-and-only ‘big run’ should ideally be completed one month before the marathon. It’ll give you a good taster of what it’ll feel like on race day and you’ll be able be see if your nutrition strategy is working. Treat it like the actual race day: eat a healthy, carb-based dinner the night before, get up early for a nutritious breakfast and aim to start running at around 10:10am when the majority of runners actually start the London Marathon. The more you can mimic race day, the better prepared you’ll be when it arrives.
Make sure the running trainers you intend to wear are properly broken in – the worst thing you can do is don your brand new footwear on marathon day and risk them causing painful blisters!
The weeks leading up to the big day should be all about tapered training. Tapering involves reducing your mileage and training intensity, while focusing more on resting, stretching and fueling your body with the right food. It almost sounds counterintuitive, but if you try to cram in loads of miles ahead of the big day, you put yourself at risk of burning out. Tapering therefore plays a key part in helping you feel pumped and at your peak fitness when marathon day arrives.
Continue with keeping your training to a minimum – the London Marathon experts recommend 20 minutes on Tuesday, 30 minutes on Wednesday and 10 minutes on Friday.
Use this downtime to get properly organised – this can really help your state of mind. Load your phone with motivating running tracks and remember to order a portable and lightweight GP PowerBank to ensure your phone doesn’t run out of battery when you need it most.
Start making some post-marathon plans now so you can relax after the race. Agree on a pre-designated place to meet friends and family once you’ve passed the finish line, and if you plan on eating out think about what you’ll fancy/where you’d like to go – then book it up, fast! You could also think ahead and book yourself in for a massage a couple of days after the race – you’ll most definitely have earned it!
Spend the night before getting everything ready – make sure you have what you need for breakfast and lay out your clothes, snacks, water bottle and PowerBank.
It can help to write out a schedule for the morning so that you know what you need to be doing and when – from waking up to taking your final loo break, to meeting at the start line. Can’t seem to shake off those fluttering butterflies in your stomach? Don’t worry, they’re completely normal! Have a good soak in the bath with a relaxing playlist, or practice some mindfulness to help clear the head and focus.
You’ve done it – congratulations! You might not be able to feel your legs but that doesn’t matter, because you’re experiencing what’s known as the ‘runners’ high’! When you’ve finished high-fiving fellow runners and giving your friends and family huge hugs, make sure you drink plenty of fluids. Try coconut water, dubbed “nature’s sports drink”, which packs fifteen times more potassium than traditional sports drinks and contains natural sugar. Next, wrap yourself in something warm to stop your body’s temperature from plummeting. Grab a snack (either a banana or some pre-made, protein-packed energy balls) and as soon as you can, change into something dry and warm.
Don’t be afraid to take some time out to properly stretch (your friends and family will understand!) and slap on some Arnica – it works wonders for sore muscles.
And finally... relax!
Have you taken on a few marathons before? If so, do you have any preparation tips you can share with us?