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Have your Best Marathon to Date




Running a marathon is a significant accomplishment, and with the right approach, it can be an enjoyable experience. From fuelling to pacing, kit, and mental attitude, there are various factors that can influence your performance on race day. In this blog, we will look at some tips and strategies to help you run your best marathon to date.


Whilst being daunting for most... it certainly scares me... a marathon can be broken down into achievable chunks. The main thing is to trust yourself, trust your coach, trust your training and be confident. Make sure you have a realistic target derived by you and your coach, and stick to your plan.


Related: Make the best training plan and routine for you


We will focus on the following



Fuelling


Fuelling before the race:


Let's start with the days leading up to the marathon. Don't do anything you wouldn't usually do... however, this is the time to make sure your body is stocked up on all the good stuff it needs to make it through 26.2 miles of running. Carbohydrates are your friend here, so stock up on pasta, rice, potatoes, bread, and other carb-heavy foods in the days leading up to the race. You'll also want to make sure you're staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water and electrolyte-rich fluids like sports drinks. And, of course, don't forget to get plenty of rest so your body is ready to tackle the race.


Morning before:

2 porridge pots 3 hours before start.

1 gel 20 mins before.


Fuelling during the race:


Okay, so you've made it to race day - congrats! Now it's time to focus on giving your body the fuel it needs to power through those 26.2 miles. This is where you'll want to have a plan in place for how you're going to stay hydrated and fueled up during the race. Depending on your pace, you may need to consume fluids and energy gels or chews at regular intervals throughout the race. Make sure you practice your race-day nutrition plan during your training runs to find out what works best for you. And don't forget to listen to your body - if you're feeling thirsty or hungry, it's okay to take a quick break to grab some water or a snack.


My general rule of thumb is one 30-40g carb gel every half an hour after the first hour of running. I use Precision Hydration but Maurten is another good brand worth trying.


Pro tip: make sure you take on water too! most people suffer from dehydration/lack of electrolytes/salts... take care on race day.


Fuelling during recovery:


You've crossed the finish line! Now it's time to focus on recovery. Your body has just undergone a pretty intense workout, so it's important to give it the fuel it needs to recover properly. This is where things like protein and healthy fats come into play. Aim to eat a balanced meal with plenty of protein within 30 minutes of finishing the race. You can also try things like chocolate milk, which is a great source of protein and carbs. And don't forget to keep hydrating - your body will need plenty of fluids to help it recover.


Remember, everyone's body is different, so it's important to listen to your body and figure out what works best for you. And most importantly, have fun - running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge!



Pacing


Ah, pacing a marathon - one of the most important aspects of running a successful race. But it can also be one of the trickiest things to get right. Do you start off slow and conserve your energy, or do you go all-out and hope for the best? Fear not, my friend - with a little bit of strategy and a healthy dose of common sense, you can pace your marathon like a pro.


Start slow:


When the gun goes off and you're standing at the start line with hundreds (or thousands) of other runners, it can be tempting to take off at full speed. But resist the urge! Starting too fast can lead to burnout later in the race. Instead, aim to start off slow and steady, conserving your energy for the later miles.


Use a pacing strategy:


One of the best ways to pace your marathon is to use a pacing strategy. This could involve breaking the race up into sections and aiming to hit specific times for each section, or using a GPS watch to track your pace and make sure you're on target. The key here is to find a strategy that works for you and helps you stay on track throughout the race.


Stay relaxed:


It's easy to get caught up in the excitement of race day and tense up, but staying relaxed is key to pacing your marathon like a pro. Focus on your breathing, loosen your shoulders and hands, and try to stay present in the moment. You'll be amazed at how much more comfortable and efficient you'll feel when you're relaxed.


Embrace the ups and downs:


Marathons are rarely a flat, even course - there will be hills, twists, and turns along the way. Instead of letting these variations throw you off your game, embrace them! Use the downhills to pick up your pace, and focus on maintaining your effort level on the uphills. Remember, the race is a marathon, not a sprint - you have plenty of time to make up any lost ground.


Finish strong:


As you approach the finish line, it's time to let it all hang out. This is where you can really dig deep and give it your all. If you've paced yourself properly, you should have plenty of energy left to finish strong. Focus on your form, breathe deeply, and push through to the finish line.

So there you have it - a light-hearted guide to pacing your marathon like a pro. Remember, everyone's race is different, so finding a pacing strategy that works for you is important. And most importantly, have fun - running a marathon is a huge accomplishment, and you should be proud of yourself for taking on the challenge!


Kit


First things first - let's talk about shoes. A good pair of running shoes is essential for any race, but especially for a marathon. You'll want a pair that fits well, provides good support and cushioning, and has been broken in before race day. Some popular brands for marathon shoes include Hoka, Asics, and Nike. Personally, I'm a big fan of the Nike Alphafly or Vapourfly next% - they're comfortable, durable, and have a good amount of cushioning.


Next up, let's talk about clothes. You'll want to wear something that's comfortable and allows for a full range of motion. Moisture-wicking fabric is a must, to help keep you dry and cool. Some popular brands for marathon clothes include Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour. My personal go-to is a pair of Nike Dri-Fit shorts and a moisture-wicking tank top.


Pro tip: don't try out any new clothes on race day - make sure you've worn them before and know they're comfortable.


Accessories can also be important on race day. A good pair of socks can make all the difference - look for ones with extra cushioning and moisture-wicking properties. Some popular brands include Balega and Feetures. A hat or visor can also be helpful, to keep the sun out of your eyes and protect your face from the elements. Sunglasses can also be a good addition, especially on a bright, sunny day.


Quick Recap: The best kit to use for a marathon includes a good pair of running shoes, comfortable and moisture-wicking clothes, supportive socks, helpful accessories like a hat or visor and sunglasses, and energy fuel like gels or chews. With these items in your arsenal, you'll be ready to tackle those 26.2 miles like a pro. Remember, everyone's race is different, so find what works best for you and enjoy the journey.

Mental Attitude


It's no secret that a marathon is not just a physical challenge, but a mental one as well. But with a little bit of preparation and the right mindset, you can smash those 26.2 miles.


First things first, let's talk about positive self-talk. The way you talk to yourself during the race can make a huge difference in how you feel and perform. Instead of focusing on negative thoughts like "I can't do this," try reframing them into positive statements like "I am strong and capable." It may sound cheesy, but trust me, it works. You'll be amazed at how much more confident and energised you'll feel with a positive mental attitude.


Visualisation can also be a helpful tool. Before the race, take some time to visualize yourself crossing the finish line strong and proud. Picture yourself running with ease, feeling strong and powerful. This mental rehearsal can help boost your confidence and give you a sense of control over the race.


Another helpful strategy is to break the race up into smaller, manageable goals. Instead of focusing on the entire 26.2 miles, focus on getting to the next aid station, or running to a specific landmark on the course. By setting smaller goals, you'll be less likely to get overwhelmed and discouraged.


It's also important to stay in the present moment during the race. Don't worry about how far you have left to go or how fast you're running - just focus on the here and now. Focus on your breathing, your stride, and your surroundings. By staying present, you'll be less likely to get caught up in negative thoughts and feelings.


And lastly, don't forget to have fun! Yes, a marathon is a serious undertaking, but it's also a celebration of all the hard work and training you've put in. Don't forget to smile, high-five spectators, and enjoy the experience. After all, you're running 26.2 miles - that's pretty darn impressive!


Having a good mental approach for a marathon involves positive self-talk, visualisation, setting manageable goals, staying in the present moment, and having fun. With the right mindset and a little bit of preparation, you can tackle those 26.2 miles and have your best race to date. So go out there, run your race, and remember to enjoy the journey.

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