Here’s how to get marathon ready!

It’s that time of year – if you’re running the London Marathon, those nerves are probably kicking in! This week, Victory’s Head of Performance Helen Murawska talks about making sure you’ve done everything you need to do… 

There’s a lot to be said for us list-makers out there. I tend to find that I write to-do lists containing items like ‘write to-do list for X’. It might sound a bit obsessive (!) but I find it genuinely helps me prepare with ease for any upcoming event, in as much or as little detail as I need to, depending on the importance or uncertainty of it.

So, if this is your first marathon and/or you want to take it reasonably seriously, I would suggest jotting down a list for the week before and the week after race day.

The week before:

Mobility – You can do this little and often, just make sure you do something! If you have no idea where to start, just use a foam roller on the calves and quads, and stretch the hamstrings and lower back. Write out a plan of exactly when you are going to fit it in over this week, around your work schedule etc – and if you’re not sure how to use a roller, try looking at our YouTube channel!

Nutrition – You should by now have got your nutrition for the day itself sorted. This includes breakfast, running fuel (gels/bananas/bars/drinks etc), and post-run recovery. If you haven’t, make a plan now! But the whole week leading up to the race is just as important. Get your carbs in, but be aware you don’t need to overload on white starchy carbs. Get plenty of nutrient-dense food and don’t forget the protein and fats. Hydration this week is just as important as during and after the race. Keeping hydrated throughout the week can help you sleep better and feel fresher each day.

Logistics – time for a sub-list! Plan your logistics for the day:

  • How will you travel to the race?
  • Have you got a plan B just in case that mode of transport/line is down or delayed?
  • Exactly where will you be meeting any friends/family on the day? It’s BUSY in London on marathon day and you may not have your phone back on you for some time after you’ve finished. Make sure to perhaps meet at slightly quieter sites – for example, your charity’s gazebo or a outside a specific entrance to your tube station after the race.
  • Have you got a base layer or thin top that you might want to wear whilst standing on the start line, but that you don’t mind ditching once you start running? It can be a long wait from when you drop your bag off, to when you actually cross the line to start. Unfortunately you will probably just have to just ditch the item of clothing though, so don’t wear your favourite top!
  • What food and drink will you want to consume straight after the event?  Have them packed in your runner’s bag in case you can’t find a nearby shop that’s easy to get to and stocks exactly what you’ll be craving!
  • What might you want to travel home in? Take a change of COMFORTABLE shoes and clothing. Either pack, or get friends/family to bring, warmer clothing in case you need to get some layers on for the journey home.

Pack in advance – don’t leave it till Saturday evening to pack for the race. It may sound a bit extreme but I’d advise packing a couple of days beforehand so that you have plenty of time to buy anything you’re out of. Make a list!

  • Plasters
  • Blister plasters
  • Chafe lotion/Vaseline
  • Food and drinks for pre/during/post event
  • Breakfast
  • Face wipes/body wipes (to get rid of some of the salt and sweat on your skin to help you feel a bit more comfortable for the journey home).

Other things to note:

  • Cut your toe nails a couple of days beforehand!
  • Have you sorted your iron-on name?
  • Is your watch fully charged?
  • Is all your kit washed and ready to wear? Including underwear!

Massage Should I? Yes, as long as it’s not your first-ever massage. If you’ve never had one before I personally wouldn’t have one my first one the week before a marathon. If you have had one before, I would suggest it’s a good idea to flush out any remaining toxins from your previous training, and the keep the muscles a bit looser. What kind? Ask your therapist for more of a ‘flush out’ rather than a deep tissue massage, and keep it a bit shorter than normal if you know you sometimes hurt a bit after a treatment. How close to the event? I would suggest no closer than 24 hours to the event.

The week after:

Basically, the same rules apply:

Mobility – do not neglect this. Even if you just do the basics. Little and often is great!

Nutrition – This is equally important if you want to not take an entire month to feel your normal self again! Again- nutrient dense food as well as the well-deserved beer or chocolate is needed. You may be dehydrated for some days after then event, that plus physically recovering can leave you with a similar feeling to a hangover! Don’t spend a week feeling hungover at work. Get plenty of water or green teas in, and keep taking electrolytes if needed.

Logistics – It might not seem important but small things like letting people know how you’ve done, and extra ‘thank yous’ to those who have donated to charities. Do you have plans to keep up some running? Don’t let it slide – book a couple of 10ks for the summer. It’s time to enjoy your fitness with more manageable events.

Massage Should I? Yes! What kind? Keep it light in the first week and then maybe go for a deeper treatment in the second week. How close to the event? If you’re lucky enough to be able to get a massage immediately post-run from one of the amazing volunteers, then I would absolutely have a short massage. Just let the therapist know of any specific niggles/blisters/sore bits you may have picked up on the run!

Our very own soft tissue specialist, Hayley, is running the London Marathon this year, for the Brain Research Trust. You can sponsor her here, and/or you can track her using the App with her race number, 35453! Good luck, Hayley!

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