With the London Marathon fast approaching, there’s only a few days left for those running to prepare for the big event. But before you cross the start line, Nell McAndrew shares her Race Day Tips to ensure you start off on the right foot.
Fuel up: You should have been carb-loading in the preceding days and had a carb-heavy meal the night before the race (make sure it’s a dish you’ve had the night before a long run before so you’re sure it agrees with you). Then have a good breakfast 2-3 hours before the run, such as porridge or toast with jam.
Avoid chafing: Bleeding nipples are a common and painful sight on many runners. Avoid them by applying anti-chafing gels to your body in the morning before you put your kit on and topping up just before the race in any delicate areas. Men could also try putting plasters over their nipples as theirs are more prone to bleeding than women’s. Also, cover your feet in anti-chafing gel to prevent blisters and apply gel to anywhere else your clothes might rub.
Hydrate: Drink a couple of glasses of water before the race but don’t go overboard. It’s dangerous to drink too much and will mean you have a stomach full of water and need frequent toilet stops. Adjust how much you drink to how hot it is on the day. Once the race is underway, don’t wait till you’re thirsty to have a drink, but sip water little and often.
Know the course: Familiarise yourself with the route in advance. This could help you mentally tick off the miles. You can also plan where your friends and family will stand so you can look out for them when you run past.
Plan ahead: You don’t want to waste nervous energy on the morning of the race worrying about the practicalities so make sure you have planned your journey to the start line in advance, allowing plenty of time to get there. Familiarise yourself with the organisation at the event so you know how and where your kit will be stored and agree a specific place near the finish where you can meet your loved ones afterwards.
Keep warm: Take some spare clothing or a bin bag to wear that you can then discard on the start line, as you often have to hand in your clothes for baggage storage at least 30 minutes before the off. I also highly recommend wearing spare trainers to arrive in, as at the London Marathon the grass at Greenwich Park is usually damp early in the morning. Then if it rains during the race you’ll also have a dry pair to change into at the finish.
Don’t go off too fast!: Find out what pace per mile you need to run to achieve your target time and stick to it. It can be tempting to get carried away with the race atmosphere and run too quickly at the beginning, but it’s better to run an even-paced race if you want to avoid ‘hitting the wall’.
Write your name on your vest: This is a great way to gain some extra support from the crowds. Hearing them cheer your name will help keep you going if you start to tire.
And more importantly, make sure you enjoy yourself!