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Your Week-Out Marathon Plan

posted on Friday, 8th April 2011 | find under Fitness
We have created a Week-Out Plan covering all the things you NEED to know for marathon success.
A marathon is not necessarily the easiest of sports – in fact many would argue it is the toughest. At mile 20 with 6.2 to go, your body starts to breakdown muscle tissue for energy, and yet it still captures our imagination. It spurs us to train month after month, week after week, and step after step, so we can cross that line and claim the victory.

The first marathon run was in 400BC when a Greek messenger ran from a town called Marathon to Athens, a distance of 26.2 miles or roughly 40 kilometres. Upon arriving he proclaimed “Nike!” (The Athenians had defeated Persia) and he promptly dropped dead.  Now we can share the glory, declare the victory and with our months of physical, nutritional and mental training avoid a similar fate.  Marathon running can be a joy and you may experience the “runner’s high” but equally there are battles to be fought. We have prepared a Week-Out guide for you to make your 26.2 miles go to plan.

The 7 days prior to race day are crucial training days for your body and mind. During this last week you need to "taper" off your running amount and lighten your workout routine to give your body the rest it needs to repair, recover and renew for race day. A good guide is to run a 1/3 of your weekly training distance at your normal pace and if you have been including interval training, consider an easy session that won’t make you sore.  With the extra time on your hands and pre-race nerves you may be tempted to run your regular distance but try to avoid this as you will risk exhaustion on the day. Use the time to relax, perhaps catch-up with friends you have neglected due to your crazy training schedule or watch that film you missed at the cinema. This 1 week of rest will result in improved running economy and heighten your mental freshness; both of which you will be glad of at mile 20!

Try to get a good 8 hours sleep each night of your taper week. Get a good night’s sleep two days before marathon day as its quite normal for nerves to keep you awake the night before.

With 7 days to go to race day it is important to fuel your body with adequate and nutritionally rich foods. Increase your carbohydrates i.e. breads, pasta, cereals, and fruits and vegetables and up your protein levels and fluid intake. Eat regularly throughout the week and eat things that you've eaten many times before your long runs.

The night before the race, eat an early, high-carbohydrate dinner, but don’t overdo it as you want to feel light on your feet, not bloated and heavy come race morning.

If you have travelled for the marathon and will be in a hotel on race morning make sure you pack your normal pre race breakfast – the last thing you want to be doing is running around looking for a banana. 

At the beginning of your taper week write a complete list of everything you will need for your marathon. Include; your running number, race kit, sun screen, sport drinks and power gels etc. and prepare these items a few days prior. You do not want to be packing the night before or stressing the morning of your race looking for your lucky running socks. Also, don’t forget to pack your favourite post run fluids and nutrition – so you can begin your recovery as soon as possible!

Marathon running is as much about your mental preparation as it is about time spent on the road. Running distances often becomes a mental game when your legs are exhausted, your energy stores are completely depleted and you are experiencing a degree of pain. When you hit this point, often called ‘The Wall’ (in a marathon it is pretty much inevitable), it becomes a question of not whether you can finish but rather if you believe you can finish. This is where your mental preparation pays off.  You need the mental stamina and strength to conquer The Wall and finish your race. With 7 days to race day practice thinking positively, visualise running the last few miles and crossing the finish line. Consider creating a positive mantra that you can focus on and use to block out the pain / hunger /exhaustion that are causing you to slow down, stop or doubt yourself. A common mantra is “The pain is only temporary”.

Yoga, due to its benefits of increasing your ability to centre your thoughts, and visualise your race day triumph, is becoming increasingly popular amongst runners, not to mention the benefit of stretching your muscles.

Make sure you wake up least 2 hours before your start time. Eat a light but high-carbohydrate breakfast and start making your way to the starting line – the last thing you need is the stress of running late!

Start slow. Standing at the starting line, with its heady mix of excitement, adrenaline and nerves, it is hard not to sprint the first mile once the gun goes off! This can throw your pace out and have you struggling at 10 miles. So start slow and if you have energy to burn in those final miles you can reap the benefits by flying past your competitors. 

By now you would have practiced and refined your race day pace and nutrition plan. Now you just have to stick to it! Familiarise yourself with the course; where the drinks stations are and identify approximate landmarks of when you will need to refuel.

Once you have settled into your running rhythm, you will be sure to find a few competitors keeping the same pace. Don’t be shy, make them your friend and the miles will slip by as you motivate and encourage each other to cross that finish line. 

Hurrah – you made it! Refuel as soon as you can with fluids and your favourite post run snack.  Wear your marathon medal with pride and well into the night and even all week if you like – you certainly earned it!
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