Ten Tips to Conquer the Virgin Money London Marathon
Completing a marathon is one of the most satisfying accomplishments you can achieve. Once you have done all the hard work in training during the run-up to the event, you can focus on the areas that will give you an edge for the main event.
Check out these 10 tips from Dr Adrian Hodgson, Senior Sports Scientist at Lucozade Sport, to ensure you enjoy a great result on the big day.
1. Eat heartily the night before
The night before your 26.2-mile challenge, eat a meal you enjoy and are used to. Make sure that the meal is rich in carbohydrates, this could include foods like pasta, rice, bread and potatoes. This meal will ensure your carbohydrate stores in your muscles and liver are stocked up before event day. These stores of carbohydrate are essentially the petrol to the engine – we are all know that an engine cannot run on an empty tank of petrol, so stocking up these carbohydrate stores will reduce the risk of fatigue during the run.
2. But don't eat too close to bedtime!
Try not to eat too late in the evening before the big day. Make sure you plan ahead so that you can avoid rushing this meal. Give your body time to digest the evening meal and relax so you hopefully get a good night’s sleep, which is vitally important.
3. Get some carbohydrate in at breakfast
As with the night before the challenge, priming the body with carbohydrates at breakfast is one way to put in a good performance during the event. Stick to breakfast meals and foods you have used in the build-up to the race. Porridge, toast, cereal, bagels and fruit juice are all great choices.
4. Reduce fat and fibre
Keep fibre and fat to a minimum in your pre-event breakfast as we know these can cause upset stomachs during the run. This simple tip will ensure you’re in top condition for the challenge ahead.
5. Keep hydrated before the race
Don’t neglect drinking before the race ¬– keep a bottle of water or sports drink with you and drink little and often. If you become dehydrated, your performance might dip. Even a two per cent reduction in your body weight has been shown to have a negative impact so make sure you start the challenge well hydrated.
6. Take on fuel during the race
So, if our bodies are like cars, it’s worth remembering that they can’t run on empty. The stores of carbohydrate in our body can deplete during the event, so you should aim to consume some carbohydrate during the run to avoid the onset of fatigue. One size does not fit all though – faster runners may need more carbohydrate during the event, while slower runners may need less. Aim to consume between 30g-60g of carbohydrate per hour. This is equivalent to one or two bottle of Lucozade Sport each hour of the event.
7. Drink little and often
During the event, drink little and often to avoid dehydration and ensure you’re getting some carbohydrate. Avoid drinking large volumes of fluid in one go as this can be a bad thing. You don’t want to get a stitch.
8. Do not forget to rehydrate and recover after the race
Once you finish the event, focus on your recovery. Start by drinking some carbohydrates and electrolytes in the hours after exercise to rehydrate. Drinking little and often after the event.
9. Eat a meal you enjoy after the race, you deserve it
Eat a meal you enjoy, but do not neglect carbohydrates. The meal should be rich in carbs to top up the stores in your body that are likely to be pretty low after your efforts.
10. Finish up with some protein
It is not just carbohydrate that is important after the race. Combine some protein to help your muscles recover. Treat yourself to around 20g of high-quality protein, this is equivalent to a palm sized of protein on a plate of food. Meat, fish or dairy are all good options.
FFollowing this advice next time you take on 26.2 miles will help you to have a great run. Good luck and make sure you follow the most important rule of all – enjoy it!