10 Tips to Conquer the London Marathon
April 19th 2018
The 2018 Virgin Money London Marathon is just days away! You’ve been training hard for months to get ready for the challenge, but don’t forget about preparing for the night before and the day of the race. In this post, we share 10 tips to help ensure that your race day is a success.
Here's our top-10 tips for ensuring your race day is a success:
1) Eat well the night before, but in moderation
According to the Standard, you need “quality” calories to keep your carbohydrate stores (glycogen) topped up to feel great on race day. At about 6 or 7 p.m. the night before the marathon, eat a carbohydrate-heavy meal, such as pasta, rice or potatoes. Avoid greasy or “junk” foods like pizza or fried foods. Stocking up on carbs will help reduce the risk of fatigue during the race. But don’t overdo it! Make your meal light and sensible. If you stuff yourself, you’ll feel sluggish on race day. Try to avoid late-night snacks before the race.
2) Get carbs in the morning, too
Don’t forget to eat the morning of the race! You’ll likely be excited and busy getting to the starting line. One resource we consulted suggested that runners avoid a heavy meal at least three hours prior to the start. Prepare in advance and allow yourself time to eat a light healthy breakfast on the day of the marathon. Prime your body with more carbs, such as fruit juice, porridge or bagels. If you have some time until the starting gun, keep your energy up by eating a few small, light and healthy snacks while you wait.
3) Get hydrated before you even start
Hydration is key! Hydrate before the race to avoid dehydration during the run, which can result in a decline in your performance. Set yourself up for success and consume a moderate amount of water and electrolytes before you begin. You’ll hydrate during and after the race as well but take the time to check in on your water consumption the morning of the marathon.
4) Dress the part
Our advice: don’t run a marathon in a cotton t-shirt, no matter how clever it is! Cotton will absorb your sweat and moisture, making you feel both damp and hot. Instead, seek out synthetic fabrics that are more breathable and comfortable, like nylon, polyester, spandex or even eco-friendly bamboo. Consider dressing in layers so you can adjust and remove clothing as you warm up. Another tip is to make sure you’ve “tested” your running clothes. Pick a marathon outfit in advance and wear it for a long training run to make sure it fits and feels right before you commit to wearing it for the full marathon. Post-race day, celebrate by designing your own customised running gear for you or your running group – it might add some fun and motivation as you train for your next big race.
5) Drink on the run
At the London Marathon, you’ll be provided with sports drinks along the race route. Take advantage! These sports drinks perform a triple duty compared with water by providing the carbohydrates, electrolytes and sodium that your hard-working body needs! An article in Runner’s World suggests that if you have a sensitive stomach, you might want to “test” a sports drink in advance of the marathon, during training.
6) Drink little and often
With hydration, don’t overdo it! While you might feel parched, drink small quantities of water or sports drink at frequent intervals. Too much water can cause muscle cramping. Drinking smaller amounts more often will keep you hydrated and feeling good. Runners World has a great idea: Try practicing your drinking pacing while you are training by placing water bottles along your training route.
7) Rehydrate and recover
While it might be tempting to stop drinking after the race is over, be sure to rehydrate after you cross the finish line. Your body will need the carbohydrates, electrolytes and sodium that it expended during the run. Give your body time to recover. Keep moving and walk, don’t just sit (or lie!) once you’ve finished, as tempting as that may seem. Have some warm clothes handy. Once you’ve left the race course, consider an ice bath and continue to walk around in the afternoon and evening to loosen your muscles.
8) Eat a meal after
Immediately after the race, find something good to eat like bananas, energy bars, bagels and sports drinks. Later, continue to eat more carbohydrates. Take advantage and eat a favorite meal that you wouldn’t typically eat due to calories or carbohydrates. You’ve earned it! Your body will need to top up carbohydrate stores again.
9) Add protein and avoid alcohol
Add protein to your after-race meal to help your muscles grow and adapt to what they’ve been through. While you probably want to celebrate, limit alcohol intake as much as possible after finishing, as alcohol can cause dehydration. Wait a few hours for that celebratory pint!
10) Chill out and relax
You did it, congratulations!! Relax, feel great about yourself, and relish in your accomplishment. You deserve it.
We hope these 10 tips help you have the best London Marathon experience possible this month. From your friends and supporters at The Charity Clothing Company, we are proud of you! Congratulations and keep up the great work this year.