For those of you running the London Marathon in just 6 weeks, there should just be two or three weeks of heavy training left before the best bit of the training plan – the taper.
I am relatively experienced in the London Marathon; I’ve worked as a physio along the route three times, I have supported my husband running it twice (quickly) and I have even run it once (slowly). I am also a massive fan of the event, which raises so much money for fabulous charities, brings communities together in the joint spirit of sport and inclusion and I am proud to live in the city which hosts the race.
I therefore thought I’d write a blog to address some of the physical and emotional aspects that runners may be experiencing at the 6 weeks-to-go mark.
1.Emotion: ‘I am not sure I’ll manage it – I’ve missed the last few weeks of my training due to the snow and then being ill’.
Rational answer: If you have trained appropriately in the months prior to now, you will have got enough miles in the tank, your strength and endurance will be adequate and you will be absolutely fine come race day. You also cannot underestimate the adrenalin you will experience on race day – having thousands of people cheer you on is an experience you will never forget.
2. Emotion: ‘I have a slight niggle in my hamstring / knee / calf. Do I continue training or rest?’
Rational answer: All injuries require different management actions, so probably best to see a physiotherapist who will advise you if it is best to rest, reduce the training load or just continue as normal. Don’t just google it, you’ll regret it!
4. Emotion: ‘I have been training in my running trainers for four months now. Maybe I need to get some new ones for the race.’
Rational answer: Whatever you do, don’t use any brand new gear on actual race day. Yes, dependent on the condition of your current trainers, new trainers a couple of months prior to the race could be a good idea. But if you wear a brand new pair on the day of the race, you won’t have tested them out, softened them up, made sure the laces are tied correctly etc. This is a good time to mention, it is best to try out all your running gear pre-race. This includes underwear, socks, charity running vests, running belts, fancy dress etc. By going for a training run in these items, you can then establish where chaffing will occur and know how to avoid it. Because trust me, chaffing WILL occur. There are various products on the market, but my husband swears by http://www.bodyglide.com
5. Emotion: ‘Should I be using energy gels, drinks, bars during the race?’
Rational answer (by my husband Jonny who is an experienced marathon runner): Energy gels are important for marathon runners – over the course of an endurance run you use up all the glycogen you have stored up pre-race – in other words you run out of fuel, and so energy gels are vital for refuelling. There are several brands out there I recommend trying them out before the race – some people react badly to certain products i.e. gives them stomach aches, so you’ll need to find which one suits you well in advance of the race. On race-day, the London Marathon kindly hands out Lucozade sports gels at a couple of stations, but you will probably need more than this to ensure maximum performance. A couple of products I recommend are gu gel (www.guenergy.com) which you will need to take with water, or SIS (www.scienceinsport.com/uk/shop-sis/all-products/gels) which is isotonic so you don’t need to take with water. I would try both and see which one you prefer.There will also be water stations most miles as well as Lucozade sports stations. It is vital to rehydrate throughout the race, but take care not to over-drink which can be incredibly dangerous.
I think we’ve dealt with enough 6-weeks-to-go marathon jitters for now. Watch this space for updated blogs leading up to the race. Any personal questions, please give me a shout and I will try and answer them in my next blog. As always, thanks for reading.