Rock up to the start line fully prepared with ultra runner Tobias Mews' 10 tips on perfecting your marathon race day routine.
1. Get a massage
If there is one thing that I wish I could have more of - it’s a sports massage. Book yourself a massage two to three days before the race and another one a few days after the race. It’s money well spent, as before the race it will help you loosen up your body and afterwards it will help to repair the damage done to your muscles during the race.
2. Stay off the booze
Although the odd glass of red wine is said to be good for you, in this instance, it’s best to stay away from alcohol, especially in the few days leading up to the race. Not only does alcohol dehydrate you - the opposite effect that you want - but it could also have a detrimental affect on your performance.
3. Get a good night’s sleep
Although you may be used to surviving on 6-7 hours sleep a night, your body will be a lot more appreciative if you can squeeze in an extra hour. Try to ensure that you get a decent kip on the Friday night, if your race is on Sunday - as nerves can get the better of us the night before!
Because your body can’t store more than approximately 90 minutes worth of energy (glycogen), carbo-loading is a must. You need to find complex carbs like pasta, wholegrain bread, porridge, potato, couscous, rice, etc. You should be aiming to consume around 8-10g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body weight per day, which for a 70kg runner is between 560g and 700g.
5. Prepare your kit in advance
Write a list of what kit you need on the day: trainers, bib number, timing chip, vaseline, running shorts and top, warm clothes for after, hat (if sunny), sunglasses, etc. Lay it out on your bed, ticking each from your list as you put them in a bag, safe in the knowledge that you’ve got everything! It will give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling!
6. Stay hydrated
In the days leading up to the event, make sure you stay well hydrated and avoid alcohol. However, try to avoid drinking too much the night before the race, otherwise you’ll be back and forth to the loo like a yo-yo. It’s best to stop drinking about 2 hours before bed!
7. Don’t eat anything new
If you’ve been invited to a birthday party at a Chinese restaurant and you don’t regularly eat Chinese food - don’t eat any! Basically, try to avoid eating new food in the days leading up the race. Stick to meals that you know - the ones that won’t have you spending more time in the loo than at the table.
8. No last minute long-runs
Don’t even think about trying to squeeze in a last minute long run - it’s not worth it. Remember, that in the art of tapering your longest run will have occurred 3 weeks earlier - so the key now is to keep your legs loose and simply ticking over.
You might want to go for a very gentle 2-3 mile jog the day before - but nothing strenuous.
9. Know the course
If you’ve not already picked up your race pack, then make sure you’re familiar with the route. Is there a hill? Where are the water stations? How far is the finish from the car/train station? What’s the weather going to be like? If you think about these things now, then it will prevent any nasty surprises on the day!
Even though you may feel nervous, there is no point stressing yourself out. Read a book, listen to some music, hang out with friends, go for a bike ride - just try to avoid thinking too much about the race. If you’ve done the training and followed our advice, you’ll do brilliantly!
Words: Tobias Mews