Ahead of your next marathon, or even if it’s your first, here are three ways to help improve that finish time – that even the great Eliud Kipchoge would agree with.
99% of the hard work will be done by you in the months of training and preparation, there is no denying that, however, there are some avoidable obstacles that even the most experienced marathon runner falls victim too.
So even if your marathon is just around the corner it’s still not too late to take onboard some additional advice that could make all the difference.
Beware of chaffing
We all laugh at the photos of the chap who’s white t-shirt or vest has big red streaks coming down from them, but whilst it may look hilarious, it is an unnecessary pain for your marathon that can make things unnecessarily difficult. When so many things can go wrong over 26.2 miles it’s another obstacle you do not need that you can easily avoid.
So men and women make sure you have a plan in action, be it a brilliant sports bra, vaseline, or even a personal favourite, duct tape or kinesiology tape.
Equally be aware if other chaffing hot spots, like armpits, inner thighs and your bum. All of these can be painful and change your gait, making you less efficient, more vulnerable to injury and who wants a bad finish line photo either.
Fuelling at the right time
Everyone fears the big scary BONK in the marathon, this inevitable monster that will claim the legs of everyone who dares to run the 26.2 miles, but the bonk is avoidable. Usually, it’s your body telling you its glycogen stores are close to if not empty, muscle glycogen can provide about 90 minutes of the energy for marathon running – if you’re sensible. So it is vital that you fuel throughout the race and importantly at the key times to keep your energy levels at their optimum.
It’s not just a case of buying a high carb sugary gel on the way to the start and cracking on, it is something that you need to practice in your long runs, trial different foods and have a strategy for the race itself. Find what works for you before it’s too late on the big day.
If you don’t like gels then try the mixtures like Maurten, that all the marathon winners are using, or jelly babies. Four Jelly Babies has the same amount of carb as a gel and I know which I’d rather eat.
As seen in a recent study about marathon runners in the masters’ category, those that pace themselves better in the early stages have a better result at the end. Simple eh?
It should also help you avoid the bonking part, and just imagine the brilliant feeling in the second half of the race when steam past those who set off too quick. Pacing correctly will also make it easier to fuel in the first half of your race because you’re not at threshold from mile one
Hopefully, your marathon training is in full swing and do not worry if Johnny or Jenny from the club is doing twice as much as you. Just focus on progressing at a sensible level for yourself, enjoy the journey of becoming a fitter runner and aim for consistency between now and your taper. Yes, a taper, it’s important too.