Updated: Feb 15, 2020
10 MARATHON TIPS FOR BEFORE, DURING AND RIGHT AFTER THE RACE
Running a marathon/Half marathon or any race is an incredible achievement and it is very easy to get worked up and nervous and completely miss the enjoyment of the event. The training is over and now it is a matter of last minute prep and enjoying the journey! So to help ease some of the stress, here are some top tips for the 24 hours before, during and after your race. These will go a long way to ensure you have an awesome and memorable marathon.
To start, the golden rule is: Don’t try anything new on race day! Stick to meals, gels and suppliemnts you like and are used to, use the same clothing, socks, shoes and music playlist you’ve used in training. Don’t worry about what anyone else is doing, be confident in your own preparation, knowing what works well for you and stick to that and Control the Controllables.......
1. EAT WELL THE NIGHT BEFORE
We all metabolise food differently so the night before your race eat a meal you enjoy and are used to. Aim for a meal that is rich in carbohydrates, this could include foods like pasta, rice, bread, potatoes.
A good evening meal will ensure you have enough carbohydrates stored in your muscles and liver before race day. Carbohydrates are basically the petrol for your engine on the big day so filling up that tank will reduce the risk of fatigue during the race.
2. AVOID EATING TOO CLOSE TO BED TIME
Aim to have dinner earlier in the evening before the race. Make sure you plan ahead to avoid rushing this meal – giving your body time to digest the meal and relax should hopefully mean you get a good night’s sleep which is, obviously, crucial.
3. CARBOHYDRATES ARE KING AT BREAKFAST
Similarly to the night before, priming the body with carbohydrates at breakfast is a way to ensure your performance doesn’t suffer during the race. Stick to a breakfast and foods you’re used to and have practiced in training. Porridge, toast, cereal, bagels, fruit juice and smoothies are all great choices.
4. REDUCE FAT AND FIBRE
Keep fibre and fat to a minimum when having your race day breakfast as we know this can cause upset stomachs during the race. This simple tip will ensure you’re in top condition for the challenge ahead and hopefully reduce the chance of any unnecessary toilet stops.
5. KEEP HYDRATED BEFORE THE RACE
Don’t neglect drinking before the race – keep a bottle of drink with you – little and often is key. Dehydration may result in a decline in endurance performance. Even a 2% reduction in your body weight has been shown to negatively impact performance, which can have a negative effect on the intensity of your race.
Dehydration may result in a decline in endurance performance. You can add an electrolyte tab to your water bottle as you will lose vital vitamins and minerals during the run. Beetroot shots are great for endurance as it creates nitric oxide which causes vasodilation which relaxes the and dilates blood vessels and can aid performance .
6. TAKE ON FUEL DURING THE RACE
As described above, our bodies are like cars – they can’t run on empty. The human body’s carbohydrate reserves can become depleted during the race, therefore aim to consume carbohydrate like gels during the marathon to avoid fatigue. It’s important to understand that whilst there are recommended guidelines, a one-size-fits-all approach simply doesn’t work. Current recommendations suggest to consume 30–60g of carbohydrate per hour. Faster runners may need more than slower runners.
7. DRINK LITTLE AND OFTEN
During the race, drink little and often to avoid dehydration and ensure carbohydrate is being consumed. Again electrolytes will aid hydration. Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid in one go to avoid a stitch or stomach discomfort.
8. REMEMBER TO REHYDRATE AND RECOVER AFTER THE RACE
Recovery from a race starts as soon as you cross the finish line. Consuming carbohydrates and electrolytes in the hours after exercise will help to rehydrate. Again, consume fluids little and often and not large amounts in one go. A great source is some protein milk.
9. CELEBRATE WITH YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL
Eat a meal you enjoy but don’t forget carbohydrates. The meal should be rich in carbohydrates to fill up those reserves which are likely to be significantly depleted having just completed the race. Pasta, spaghetti, rice, potatoes and bread are all great choices to add to your celebratory meal.
10. FINISH UP WITH SOME PROTEIN
It’s not just carbohydrate that’s important after the race and the overall recovery process. Combine some protein to help your muscles repair and adapt. Aim for 20–30g of high quality protein which is equivalent to a palm size portion of food. Meat, fish or dairy is advised.
Above all else enjoy your day. Be incredibly proud of what you achieve, and SMILE!
Running a marathon is an incredible experience and one that you will never forget… ENJOY THE JOURNEY!
The very best of luck from all in NN Sport Coaching
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