The big day is creeping closer and we hope you're well into your training by now. All you need to do is check out these pre-race tips to run the best Marathon ever and be sure to make a full recovery afterwards
Wellness coach and personal trainer Lindsey Passaic, at Vitality Health, shares some of her last-minute marathon prep to get you through the 26 mile stretch, while the experts at Bupa Health Clinics take care of everything post-run
1. Stretch it out
Stretching not only reduces the risk of injury, but decreases muscle soreness and increases flexibility at the same time. Before you start your race, it is good practice to take your joints through their full range of motion by doing a dynamic (active) stretching routine. Dynamic stretches (for example high knees or twisting lunges) increase your core temperature and prepare your muscles for exercise. When you’ve finished your run, be sure to make time for static (passive) stretches. These are more appropriate for cooling down as they relax the muscles and increase extensibility. Using a foam roller will also help your body recover, improve circulation and reduce muscle soreness.
2. Eat well and drink water
As the distances are long and physically demanding, you need to leave room before and after your run to eat and drink properly. Two hours before running, opt for 500-600ml of water and a small snack high in carbohydrates but low in fat and fibre such as half a protein bar, a slice of toast with peanut butter or a banana. This combination will give your body energy without leading to worrying stomach distress. Post-run, aim to drink plenty of water while focusing on consuming carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes of your session. Every two hours for four to six hours after running, aim to replenish your water, carbohydrate and protein intake.
3. Think laps, not miles
To make the distance more manageable mentally, break it down into shorter segments such as three-mile sections. A 26-mile run will soon become just over eight and a half laps, and suddenly the prospect of a marathon doesn’t seem quite so daunting!
4. Distract yourself from the distance ahead
It’s a good idea to have a few ways to distract yourself from the mileage ahead. Listen to music, audio books or a podcast if the race allows, and think of how far you’ve come rather than how long is left to go. I also recommend doing a mental scavenger hunt during the race – trying to find someone wear a costume, particular vest or colour shirt!
5. Lean on people for support
Going on the journey with friends, family or colleagues helps keep those motivation levels up. Whether they have signed up for the event with you, or simply want to support you from the side-lines on the day, lean on them for the support in the lead up to the day, during the race, and, of course, after! It makes the success of finishing the marathon that little bit sweeter!
Once the hard work is over and you've completed the race, it's likely you'll be in need of some aftercare. In fact up to 10 million Brits have taken part in physical challenges like marathons or Tough Mudder style races and of those, 4.5 million have sustained an injury during the challenge itself or whilst training according to recent research and further still, three fifths of those who sustained an injury never saw a physio or GP about it – making for worrying statistics. “While the frustration of inactivity can make it tempting to grit your teeth and train through injury, relatively minor things like partial tendon tears and soft tissue damage can grow into much bigger problems, causing mobility issues and long term pain if left unchecked," says Hannah Zreik, from the physiotherapy team at Bupa Health Clinics. “Whether it’s training for a specific sporting event or just working on your personal fitness, don’t ignore your body if it’s in pain and telling you to stop. Rest for a few days, and if the discomfort persists see a physiotherapist. This is the quickest way to get you back to your routine, while preventing long term damage.”