ESC Marketing Manager, Lorna, will be running her 7th Marathon at London on Sunday – needless to say she’s a bit of a seasoned run addict! We thought we’d ask her to share her top ten tips for the big day.
A good taper is key to making sure you feel great, arrive at the startline rested and run well. Advice varies but I tend to drop my mileage by 70% 2 weeks out and 50% the week before. Focus on shorter, slower runs with quick bursts to keep your legs moving. Nothing you do now will have much of an impact on the race so take the time to let your body recover and rest properly.
Don’t worry, you’re meant to feel lazy during the taper –your legs will thank you on the day!
- Research the route
Have you checked out the route? Do you know where the water and gel stops are going to be? Make sure you have a good look at the map and plan your nutrition stops in advance. I also try to spread my friends and family supporting around the route, placing them at mile points where I know I might struggle. It then becomes more about ticking off small highs and milestones rather than thinking about the full 42km.
- Fuel your body
Your body can only store a limited amount of carbs so it’s important to start building those energy stores at least one week before race day. It’s not good smashing a load of rice and potato the day before – it’ll be too late then! I try to stick to 70% carbs, 30% protein for my main meals the week before. Favourites include brown rice, sushi, sweet potato (in all forms!) and pasta of course. I tend to have my main meal Saturday lunch so that my body has time to digest it followed by a medium sized dinner. The race is quite early on Sunday so the last thing you want is a last minute panic to go to the toilet before!
- Weather Watch
Make sure you know what the weather is doing and adjust your race kit accordingly. I once turned up to the start of a marathon in long running tights and a long sleeve top - it turned out to be 20 degrees and blue skies, I was baking!
- Test Run your kit
My one golden rule; never try anything new on race day; and that includes your kit! If you’ve never worn it before, how will you know that it doesn’t chafe? Try a slow shakeout run a couple of days before in your full kit to make sure it’s comfy and fits perfectly.
- Pace it smart
You’ll have a goal time that you want to achieve but make sure that your training reflects this goal and that it’s achievable on the day, under the conditions. Once you have a goal, figure out your pace and stick to it! It’s so tempting to go out fast – your legs are fresh from the taper and you feel great. But trust me, you’ll pay for it later! Run smart and you’ll end up with energy in the tank. A good friend once told me “It’s a 10k race with a 20 mile warm up.” And he’s so right. I’ve taken this on-board at the start of every race and it’s really helped.
- Stick to the race line
Luckily, London marathon has a line marked out on the road that measures the exact race distance. Stick as closely to this as possible to avoid running unnecessary extra miles. I once ran a whole extra kilometre because there wasn’t a line!
- If you gotta go, go!
If you feel like you need to stop and go to the toilet then go as soon as you come across a toilet stop, otherwise you’ll be too busy thinking about it than focussing on your race. You’ll feel much better once it’s done and can always make back the time. But don’t try and run through it hoping it’ll go away, no one wants to have to do a Paula!
- Put your headphones away
Unless you absolutely cannot run without music I would recommend you unplug the headphones and take in the atmosphere as much as possible. I’ve ran marathons in America and Europe , nothing compares to the buzz and atmosphere in London, it’s electric. Use it to your advantage and you’ll be flying along.
- The finish line
My last tip is to organise a meeting point with friends and family so you can celebrate post race. If they’re coming into London for the day make sure they know what tube to get to the finish and which roads will be closed. London Marathon mark out meeting points A-Z along Horse Guards so pick a letter to meet at. I failed to do this when I went to support my brother in Paris a couple of years ago, his phone died, and I ended up running around Paris for 4 hours trying to find him at the finish!
Lastly, good luck and see you out there!