Marathon Training Tips – Part 1 by Ania Gibb
The week leading up to race day can be extremely daunting. The nerves kick in and all the doubts of “Have I done enough training?!” play over and over in your mind. Probably enough to make you go slightly insane with worry! When preparing for race week I make sure I follow these top tips:
1. Taper and minimise your training.
Every individuals training is different. For example as a personal trainer and instructor I train everyday whether it be running, classes or with clients. I teach over 16 classes a week mixing up Spinning, Bodypump, conditioning, HITT,Pilates and various others. However, the average marathon runner might just run. It’s crucial that you taper this week. Shorter runs averaging 4 miles and less sprint work.
An example of my pre-marathon week:
• Monday – rest or 5k
• Tuesday – speed work (1 mile warm-up then 4-6/90 second sprints)
• Wednesday – 6 miles @ marathon pace.
• Thursday – 4-6 miles slow.
• Friday/Saturday – walk/rest
• Sunday – race day!
2. Fuel and Hydrate.
Carb Loading… well, you either love it or hate it! For me I hate it. I feel sluggish by the end of the week and feel as if I’ve put on weight, which is inevitable if you’re doing less exercise and eating more. Nevertheless this is vital. You need to load up and store energy into your muscles for race day. Glycogen is the main fuel muscles use in order to perform when you run. Carbohydrates are broken down by the body and turned into glycogen, which is then stored in the muscles. This is essential for long-term endurance.
Why not try these Carb filled foods:
• Pasta (I eat gluten-free pasta as I suffer from IBS. It’s just as good)
• Baked potatoes
• Beetroot (Studies have shown this enhances running performance!)
Now onto Hydration. This is just as important, if not more as carb loading. Your body is working overdrive during the marathon. You can sweat out on average 3 litres per hour (depending on weight and speed). It is critical you consume water little and often during the week but also remember not to drink too much during the marathon. Over Drinking can lead to too many toilet stops but also cause ‘Hyponatremia’ which occurs when you have low sodium in your body and can actually kill you. Little and often is the key.
3. Avoiding illness
Maintaining good health and wellbeing is hard to do when your body is rundown from training. Especially if this is your first marathon. This is when your body can catch all sorts of illnesses. Try and keep your distance from anyone close to you who is poorly. Use anti-bacterial gel if you’re travelling. The worst places to catch bugs are on trains, cash points and shopping trolleys.
These are some supplements I take to take to stay healthy:
• Vitamin C 100mg – boost your immune system.
• Magnesium – Muscle relaxation.
• Green Tea – tablet or fluid form. Used as an Antioxidant and energy booster.
• Floradix – Drives my iron levels up to help with Fatigue.
• Vitamin D3 – Another immune booster. Helps absorb calcium for strong bones.
People may not believe in supplements but I swear by Vitamin C and Magnesium. They have made a huge difference to my
training and have never looked back.
4. Epsom Salt bath and Sports Massage
Ahhh…. now this is more like it! A lovely massage! Well, that all depends on your therapist. I’ve had many different sports massages in the past. Some good, some bad. I finally found the ultimate masseuse and try to have her before each race. It’s good to stick to the same person as they learn to know your body, so they can detect anything dissimilar in your body. The painful massages are the best ones! During marathon training your muscles tighten and can cause injury further down the line if not treated. Another way to loosen and relax your muscles is an ‘Epsom Salts’ bath. I put about half a kilo in my bath but on average you need 4 cups in warm water. Then sit back and relax for a minimum of 20 minutes for the magnesium in the salts to ease your muscles. You will also have the best nights sleep ever!
5. Make a list for race day
There’s nothing worse than turning up to a race and realising you’ve forgotten something. Make a list at the start of the week, as you may need to go out and buy certain items like energy-gels.
Here’s a list of things I take:
• Energy gels (I consume 5 during a marathon but take 7 in case someones forgotten theirs)
• Race number and pins.
• Race chip (if not attached to your number)
• IPod and headphones (I cannot run without music!)
• Water bottle (Filled with an electrolyte sports drink)
• Warm clothes to throw away at the start (you need to put your bag away early. To keep warm take some old or
• Bin bag (to stay dry or sit on)
Hopefully all this information will help you towards race day!
Stay tuned for Part 2- Tips on Post Marathon Recovery……