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Preparing for the marathon: all you need to know

Preparing for the marathon: all you need to know

Marathon season is right around the corner – but you don’t need us to remind you. Yep, all those hours spent, getting up at the crack of dawn, pounding the pavements in the dark or through the ice are finally about to pay off.

Whether you’re about to take on your first or thirtieth marathon, there are always ways to train smarter and prepare better. Here are our top tips.

7 days prior

Your prep is hitting the home straight. It’s important to stick to routine here. Where possible, keep off your feet – this will help your muscles to rest and recover from training. Also, this is probably when you want to go tee-total ’til after the race. 

6 days prior

Get your head on your pillow, stat. By this point you should be down to a final shorter, slower run. This means you’ll have some extra time on your hands. Invest this time sleeping – it will help your body recover and will boost your energy levels before the big day.

5 days prior

Prepare your pacing plan. This is probably something that you’ll have a pretty good grip on already from your longer training sessions. It’s important to go over your pacing plan to keep your head clear and ensure that you feel prepared for the big day. When you’ve been running for three hours, working out your pacing isn’t the easiest task, so memorising key milestones (like your halfway time) is a good thing to do today. 

4 days prior

Four days before the run is the best time to start upping your carbohydrate intake to allow your body time to build up energy reserves. This isn’t us saying you need to eat three plates of spaghetti for dinner (if only). It just means that about 65-70% of the calories from each meal should come from carbs. This is also the time to make sure that you are staying hydrated. Keeping a water bottle with you at all times will make this much easier.

3 days prior

Your muscles will be carrying you through your marathon, so it’s imperative to keep them well-stretched and in good condition. Three days before the marathon is the best time to have a sports massage to help prevent injury and allow for quicker post-marathon recovery. Sports massage specifically helps to loosen tight spots in the muscle allowing for increased flexibility and therefore lowers the risk of injury whilst running. This type of treatment can also help to reduce pre-event anxiety and tension.

Want to know more about when it's best to have massages when you're training? Have a look at our runner's guide to massage

2 days prior

It’s time to rest up and clear your head. Resist going for a run today as it is important to allow your muscles to recover from your last training session. Spend the extra time today practicing some meditation or visualisation techniques to help avoid pre-race anxiety.

1 day prior

Some people choose to go for a light run today, others don’t. It’ll be down to how you feel, but the one thing you definitely should do is prepare your marathon kit. Gels to manage blood sugar levels, electrolytes for cramps and a bag for the bag drop. Make sure that you have everything ready the night before so you save your six am self the worry.

Marathon Day

Congratulations – you’re almost there! Be sure to have your usual pre-race small meal at least two hours before the race to allow for proper digestion and optimum energy release.

You’ll probably be hanging around the start line for a couple of hours so be sure to use this time to stretch but also relax and keep your mind clear. Richard, our in-house marathoner’s top tips are to bring along some old clothes that you don’t mind leaving behind, just to keep you warm during the wait – you don’t want to let your muscles stiffen or use up any extra energy shivering and go to the bathroom before you start. We won’t go into why, but you’ll thank him come mile twenty. 

You’ve done the work; get ready to reap the rewards and when you can’t walk in the days after, have a massage.