As you get closer to running your first marathon, now is the time to make sure that you are on track.
There are many things that you need to know before and during your big day. So, I thought I'd share with you some of the questions that my coached athletes are currently asking.
For three of them, their first marathon will be London in April and we are into the last 7 weeks of training. Here are a few conversations that we have been having - they may seem simple, but they are also pretty important.
Pre, during and post run fuelling
Practice this often - make sure that you have tried and tested what you can actually stomach before-hand, what gels, hydration and electrolytes you will need during the race, and what is going to help you with recovery after your run. These factors differ for individuals, there are a lot of suggestions out there, but it really is about finding what works for you. A key factor is that you are hydrated in the days leading up to your race as well as making sure you have hit the right balance between carbohydrates, proteins, salts and sugar. The best thing to do is practice on your long runs during training. You'll soon get an idea of what suits you (and what doesn't).
What to do if they miss a training session - or have a bad week
Marathon training is tough both physically and mentally. It's months of hard work and consistency, so there are bound to be times where you miss a run or need to take time off for any number of reasons.
The advice I always give is not to try and squeeze in extra sessions. It won't help, there's no need - just write that one off and carry on with your plan.
How to help tired legs and general exhaustion
Include rest and recovery into your plan to lessen accumulated fatigue. Recovery days and weeks should be included in any good training plan. You can read more about why.
Sleep is vital too to give the body time to relax and recuperate. You may feel more tired as the mileage increases, so listen to your body.
Tapering is a training term relating to the final week or two of your training plan. It is a reduction in intensity and mileage in the lead up to race day so you can smash that run.
What kit they will be wearing on the day
Make sure you train in the kit you will wear on race day - this isn't only to check if your trainers feel comfortable, but also to make sure that your underwear feels okay, that your top doesn't rub, that your leggings or shorts feel fine. It may sound a bit daft, but if you have just one niggle with your kit - 26.2 miles can be a long time to think about it!
How do they plan their long run routes
As your training runs start to get longer, it can be hard trying to find routes. To keep it simple, and Out and Back run will take you in one direction for half the run distance, for you to then turn round and run back the way you came. Another option is to link shorter loops that you are familiar with together - this can give you a bit of a mental boost as you know how far from home you are.
Strava allows you to plot your own route - or check out local routes of varying distances. Alternatively, head out with a group who has already planned the distance so all you need to do is follow.
How they are going to find their mental boosts for the long run miles
Consider what your mental boosts will be - believe me when I say that you'll need them! It may be that you have family and friends who can come and support you in person - knowing where they will be can be a huge boost. If you are going it alone, then be prepared to have some stern words with yourself when the going gets tough! Find a mantra, create a playlist for a boost, set yourself small targets along the way or think of some fun things to look for (especially good for London) where you have landmarks/ fancy dress/ celebrities to look out for)
Whether they need to even consider toilet breaks!
This is one element that I have no control over - and neither do you! As long as you know that race toilet queues are long and slow, with a gamble of whether toilet roll is on hand, then be prepared to get in that line early. Guaranteed, you'll go once but then feel the need not long after to go again! It's standard!
There will be places to stop along the way so if you need to go, then go. Don't try and run through discomfort, you'll just worry yourself silly.
How to not feel totally over-whelmed by the training as well as the race itself.
Running a marathon is HUGE! It can be over-whelming, and rightly so. This is a distance which takes guts and courage. It takes a lot of hard work and dedication and yes, you probably won't sleep well the night before, but you've done it. You are on that start line and ready to go.
Everyone around you will be feeling the same nervous energy, so soak up the atmosphere, take in the occasion, smile, breathe and enjoy it.
Get in touch if you have any concerns or want advice before your big day.
I'd love to be able to help you.