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10 Tips To Get You Round Your Marathon

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With just a few days to go until lining up at the start of the Virgin London Marathon it's time for the nerves to start kicking in. The first rule of marathon running is don't panic in the last week, the second rule of marathon running is don't panic in the last week....the third rule....you get the drift I'm sure. Whether you're a seasoned pro or a first timer these 10 tips will help you get to the start in the best possible condition.

  • If you haven't followed your training plan it's too late to start now! Packing in training in the last few days before the race is just going to deplete your energy and leave you with stiff legs at the start line. Instead its time to rest up, maybe go for an easy run or two and make sure your marathon target on the day is realistic.
  • If you've been training hard it's still important to taper intelligently. Stick to the advice in your marathon plan using easy running and short intervals to get to the start line refreshed and raring to go. Completely stopping for the last week will just leave you feeling lethargic at the start line.
  • Eat sensibly over the last week. Cramming in carbs as if it's your last ever meal will just leave you feeling heavy and sluggish. Yes to some extra carb portions over the last couple of days to top up those energy reserves but no to 24 hour binge eating!
  • Now is not the time to experiment with your diet. Stick to the food you normally eat every day. It may sound obvious but now is not the time to develop a new passion for spicy foods nor is it time to go on a cabbage only diet - just saying!
  • I have a friend who seems to be able to have a least one heavy night's drinking when she starts her tapering. She seems to get away with it but I wouldn't advise it! Best to show some restraint! However a small glass the night before won't do any harm and the stress release may help you get some sleep.
  • Rest is what it's about for the last week before the big day. If at all possible try to have an easy week and make sure you get lots of sleep especially 2 nights before the race. The night before could well see you tossing and turning but if you have plenty of rest stored up it won't affect you as the race day adrenaline kicks in.
  • Make sure you run in your race kit the week before the big day. Remember comfort is King. If it rubs over a couple of miles you will hate it by the time you get to 26!
  • Make sure you're fully hydrated the day before your race. Find it helps to carry round a bottle of water the day before to make sure you top up when you need it. Being fully hydrated in the days leading up to your race can make a big difference especially if it's hot. Hydrate sensibly on the morning of the race. You don't want to start with water sloshing around inside you, nor do you want to be late for the start from too many trips to the toilet queues.
  • Keep your race day as stress free as possible by planning every detail on the day; how will you get there, where do you leave your bag, where are the toilets, get your race kit ready, what gels do you need, where will you meet up with friends/loved ones after the race.
  • Visualise the course. Imagine what it's going to feel like ever mile. Think about how you will get through the last 5-6 miles. What does finishing mean to you. If it's your first marathon it's going to be 80% mind over matter. You will feel tired but think about what's going to keep you going.
  • On race day try to stay calm, eat a breakfast you know works for you before a long run, allow plenty of time to get to the start, drop off your bag, warm up, pee and get to the start pen. Use vaseline on any area that might rub - yes any!
  • Last of all - remember to enjoy yourself! Yes it's going to hurt but hopefully in a good way! Be proud!
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