This is something that Dave Fender has compiled over the years of marathon running for anyone doing their first.. I know a few striders are doing Manchester this weekend and London!
Dave’s top tips for first time Marathoners (or anyone really)
- On the 3 days before the Marathon. Get really early nights – Thursday and Friday. You may not sleep much at all on the Saturday night, because of excitement/nerves. (This is not a problem, and will not affect your performance) However, it will really help with your peace of mind, if you gained a few hours on the previous nights.
- Have a big lunch on the Friday and Saturday before a marathon. Big Jacket potato and Salad or some other carbs.
- On the day before. Get plenty of fluid into your body. NEVER go anywhere on this day, without a bottle of water or Sports drink in your hand, and just keep drinking. If you are used to Sports drinks then this is best, because you are getting in some carbs from these as well. Keep checking when you go to the toilet that it is as clear as possible, to confirm you are well hydrated. Drinking likes this on the day before helps you stay hydrated, without the problem of drinking too much on the actual day, before the race, and ending up needing the toilet during
- On the day before, do not do anything to waste energy. It may seem like a perfect day to “get a few jobs done as you won’t feel like it after the marathon” or “take the family out for a nice walk because you won’t see them tomorrow” . but DON’T. This is a mistake. If you can, literally don’t do anything. On some previous marathons I have literally spent hours and many miles, walking around cities, trying to keep the family happy. I have then paid for it the next day. Don’t waste nervous energy – in fact, any energy if you can help it.
- On Saturday – Go out for a light jog, with a few marathon paced strides thrown in, on the day before. no more than 1.5-2 miles. Wear your race kit to do this, with all the gels in your waist pack, or wherever. Just check that everything fits and feels good. Nothing rubs, or bounces, and everything is cool.
- Night of the race – I am not going to suggest food, as you all know the drill, and what you like to eat before races. I always have a meal, and then chill in front of the TV, with some nuts and just snack on them.
- Kit packed before bed, all laid out nice. the right socks in the each foot etc, just so you are ultra ultra organised, so that nothing is going to worry you (kit wise) before you go to bed. Get an early night if you can, but not so that you are laid in bed from 8 o’clock worrying about getting to sleep. Don’t ever panic about the amount of sleep you think you should get on the night before a marathon. There have been a lot of tests done, and the effect is very minimal. The guy who ran the marathon on the track for Nike a couple of months back, had about 1.5 hours sleep – he still did it in 2.01 hrs !
- I will only give one broad tip for running in the marathon, as it is a long hard day, and there are so many factors at play, but just try to relax. Start 10-15 seconds outside your planned pace, and feel your way in. If you do go to fast, don’t panic, just ease back on the next one. If you go too slow, DON’T PANIC, do not try and make up the time in the next mile. just gradually do this. It could take you 6-10 miles to claw it back, this is fine. eg – you ran 45 seconds slower in your first mile. run 4 seconds quicker for the next 10 – and you are back on track!
- My last tip would be, similar to above, The marathon is a beast that needs taming, but it can be very cruel. There is no such thing (in my opinion, and lots of other runners) of “Time in the bank” in a marathon distance. If you go too fast (faster than your planned pace) and think it will be banked in case you suffer later on, you are mistaken. It doesn’t work like that. It will come back to bite you, and take away more time than you thought you had saved. Stick to the plan, and if you feel strong, late on, then push on.
- Enjoy the day that you have worked so hard for, and remember to take little pictures in your head of everything that is going on. You will love thinking back on these little incidents (and boring family and friends for months – haha).