A cup of tea with Rob Young - Marathon Man UK
What to do leading up to a marathon.
1 week to go: – Cut your mileage down to about one- third of normal during the final week before the marathon, but run at your normal race pace. Slowing too much can alter your stride or make you feel sluggish. Your body loves routine, so try for a 30- minute easy and relaxed run on the same days you would normally run, chatting with other runners or along a favourite route.
Don’t chase time or worry about the GPS stats, just run easy and keep relaxed. If you feel strong, then consider a light session five days before the race; for example, 30 minutes including 3 × 5mins at threshold or your marathon pace, with a two- minute jog as recovery. You are just keeping your legs used to a little pace and feeling faster. Avoid spending ages on your feet, walking with family and friends, sightseeing around the city or talking for long periods of time.
It’s simple: if you don’t need to do it, don’t – and save your energy. During this week it is vital that you snack on small good meals throughout the day and stay well hydrated.
The day before
I would advise runners to jog for 10–20 minutes the day before the race and stretch. It helps you to feel loose on race day and can calm the nerves. However, always practise what you are used to in race week and the day before. If you usually rest, then definitely do this.
Surround yourself with positive, supportive people and those that enjoy the challenge and are excited by the thought of race day. If you have any negative people around you, then it can play on your mind, leaving you feeling exhausted. As race day approaches, you’re likely to be stressed and irritable.
So stay relaxed and confident, and know that pre- race nerves are normal.
You always need to sleep and rest well before a marathon; respect this key element as a runner if you want to improve.
Try to get a few early nights in race week and definitely protect that immune system in the final weeks, as late nights and picking up a cold will be a disaster come race day. Make sure you stay in your hotel room relaxing the night before, and only come out of it for that small jog or going to eat.
Prepare your race kit and lay it out ready for the morning – if you have your number, pin it to your top. Make sure any clothing has been worn and washed a few times before you race in it – don’t try anything new. Trust me, getting your kit sorted in the morning can be a real pain and stressful.
Race day – Wake early, shower and take a few moments lying down – breathe deeply, relax and stay calm. Eat the race- day breakfast you have practised in training two hours before the race start. Keep your kit simple and wear the shoes you ran your last few long runs or half- marathons in. Take a carbohydrate- based snack (for example, a banana or energy bar) and sports drink to snack on between breakfast and the race start and be prepared with fuel in case of a delayed start.
Remember your pace split times and don’t rely on your GPS – they often fail with so many signals in the same area.
Have your splits per mile written on your hand or arm in permanent ink or on a wristband. Sip your final mouthfuls of water/sports drink, but don’t take on more than normal – you don’t need it.
Don’t run to warm up or do any high- intensity drills – save your energy and use the first few miles to warm up.
Unless you are going straight out from the gun, then a couple of 100–200m jogs is all you need to do. Do remember to stretch if you are used to doing so. Finally: enjoy your race.
Best wishes and Never Give UP
Robert Young (Marathon Man UK)