I will wake up tomorrow morning with mixed thoughts. Partly thinking ‘not this again!’ but also ‘right, it’s time to make the most of the last 20 weeks of training and abstinence’. Well some abstinence anyway!
In my first marathon in London 2010, I finished in 3h18 after a long slog for the final 10 miles. Tomorrow I am aiming to run a PB which is currently at 2:41:41 (Berlin). In upcoming blogs I will outline what I think were the top 10 most important steps in helping me shave off 40mins in the last seven years.
The plan for tomorrow is simple. Relax for the first 30km and keep at target pace. And then when I hit Canary Wharf, the marathon really begins!
I’ve been tapering for the last 10 days and only running a daily maximum of 1 hour at an easy pace. My online coach Gavin Smith set me one last hard session last week and now I’ve been winding down. The essentials in these final days have been sleep, hydration, eating well (fruit, veg, not too much fat or sugar) and a lower training volume. And the most challenging bit, not over-focusing on the race! So aside watching the running film Without Limits, I’ve tried to have my mind on other things. It helps when work’s busy!
And my favourite part of the preparation – carb loading(!!) – started with a vengeance in the last three days. If you load well for three days leading up to the marathon, you can store between 2,000 to 2,500 calories in carbohydrate. There are 4.1 calories in a gram of carbohydrate so that means consuming roughly between 490g and 610g a day. My main source of choice is bagels. I’ve eaten 30 in the last three days. The only snag is they can give you a bad case of wind. One particular bout meant I had to leave the Cafe Nerro I was in to spare the other patrons!
On top of the carb loading, if you then take on carbohydrates during the race, you will give yourself a better chance of staving off the wall!
Sleeping before the race
I tend to find getting to sleep the night before quite challenging. The trick I’ve learnt is to make sure I’ve wound down about 30mins to an hour before I want to fall asleep. And I do some deep breathing to calm the mind. It’s important to stop thinking about the past, those missed training sessions and ones that didn’t go so well. And if possible the race – what you need is for your mind to stop going round in circles.
On the day
The most important thing is to be relaxed on the day and believe in the work that you have put in. Try and stay physically relaxed and mentally focused. The longer you can stay relaxed for and conserve carbohydrates in your body, the better. The beauty of running the London Marathon is how awesome the crowds are. They will keep you going and if you are struggling, they’ll always help to pick you up.
To all of you running the London Marathon tomorrow, the very best of luck and enjoy it!