You’ve been training for your marathon for months, you’ve hit your peak long mile run, smashed all goals and personal bests, nailed a solid 5 and 10k time and trained the best you possibly can. But the marathon prep isn’t over yet. The physical side might be prepped but now it’s time to plan for the day itself.
It’s definitely important to have a solid travel plan in place, you don’t want to be stressed or panicked by delayed trains and you want to make sure you’re in your start pen at the correct time. If you’re travelling from afar i’d recommend to stay in London overnight so you don’t have to worry about any travel issues on the day, and if you’re semi local, remember that most train services and some coach services will offer free travel if you show your race number. I chose to travel with my local running club and it was great as I wasn’t alone, it was a brilliant atmosphere and I got to where I needed to be – on time.
Food and water
One of the most irritating comments I received in the week leading up to the big day was ‘remember to stay hydrated’ – like I would forget. It is important though, and if you can, maybe pop a few electrolyte tablets (like these Go Hydro tablets from SiS) as they are designed to ensure you are effectively hydrated to produce your best performance. They’re great as they’re high in sodium which helps to promote hydration – even more important if race day is set to be warm. Typically I consume over 3l on an average day as it is, but during the week before just carry a bottle with you everywhere you go and make more of an effort.
It’s also important to make sure you’re having good meals for the week before and for the few days before, I would recommend grazing a little as well. During my training I kept hearing people referring to carb loading and had images running through my mind of me gorging on all things beige in the week before (IDEAL), however after reading up it became apparent that this was not the case. It is recommended to slightly up your carb intake during the 3-5 days before, but also with good carbs, and stay away from creamy rich sauces. I think it’s important to note that whilst the prospect of carb loading is really exciting (yassss give me carbs), not going too crazy is key as you don’t want to feel sluggish and heavier than you’re used to on the day.
Clothing prep played a large part for me in my marathon day prep, as up until the week before my race it had been winter. And then the UK decided to have a mini heatwave and my planned outfit went out of the window. Apart from my trainers. A few months before race day, and before my 10+ miles began, I went to my local Runners Need and had a gait analysis done and picked out a pair of trainers that would support me. And I am SO glad I did this as my trainers have been incredible! I went for the Adidas Supernova in red (the only colour in stock) and they were a dream. I panic ordered EVERY single pair of running shorts, cycling shorts, cropped leggings, capri leggings, hat & visor out there and figured out what worked for my body. In the end I went for simple £14 performance shorts from M&S my charity vest, some decent sports socks, a bum bag and a visor. Make sure you do at least 1 run in your running outfit just to check there is no chaffing, rubbing, riding up etc. And if you are worried about chaffing there are so many great balms out there to whack on.
Organising friends and family
Organising your friends and family on the day can also be a challenge, everyone wants to support you but it’s hard to know what works best! Various charities will publish the mile markers and locations they’ll be at, so I told my family to sort of follow the Samaritans cheer squad so I could easily spot them at each marker. If possible get your family/friends to make a banner, or bring an inflatable balloon etc – something that makes them a little easier to spot from further away! It’s also important to plan and organise where you will meet afterwards as the finish line can be pretty hectic. Luckily my charity arranged for someone to collect me and escort me to a local theatre where the charity had set up base – they announced my finish on the stage and then I was whisked off for a leg massage. This meant that I could easily just tell my family to meet me there!
At the end of the day, enjoy it. Trust your training and plans and soak up every single second.