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5 race day rules for surviving 26 miles

posted on Wednesday, 8th April 2015 | find under Tamara
Run your perfect marathon with these key learnings from Sarah Russell, Sweaty Betty Ambassador, contributing editor to Running Fitness magazine and founder of Sarah’s Runners. Then join the hordes of women climbing to the top of the world’s marathon elite…

Sarah Russell Sweaty Betty Ambassador

Sarah wears the Chandrasana Leggings and Elite Seamless Run Top

Set a steady pace

The reason some runners hit the wall at 20 miles comes down to running too quickly at the start. As little as 10 seconds per mile too fast in the first half will slow you down by up to two minutes per mile in the last six miles. Keep your pace the same or slightly slower than your long training runs, and have the confidence to let others pass you - you’ll thank yourself in the sprint to the finish line.

Fuel frequently and modestly

Hopefully you’ll have found the right balance in your diet during your training, because getting enough fuel is crucial to success on race day. Running causes you to burn through glycogen stores, and as your body only stores around 90 minutes’ worth you’ll need something to hand for replenishment. From about 40 minutes into the race, top them up with a mouthful of easily absorbed carbs like gel or energy chews – repeat every 20 minutes.

Hydrate on demand

Before a condition called ‘hyponatremia’ came to light, involving depleted blood sodium levels due to over-hydrating, marathon runners were told to drink as much water as possible. Today we know how important is to get the balance right. Choose a good quality sports drink with higher levels of electrolytes, and sip only as you feel thirsty – your body will tell you when it needs water.

Prepare for every eventuality

What will you do if the weather is unpredictably hot? Or unusually cold? Or raining? Have you got a plan of action? What will you wear? Will the temperature affect your pace? Plan for your race with military precision, using the following motto: “Preparation, Planning and Practice Prevents Poor Performance”. It’s no joke that pre-marathon toilet queues are often worse than the race itself, so leave more time than you think you’ll ever need!

Manage your expectations

Like all Sweaty Betty enthusiasts, you love to dream big. But running a marathon is a highly unpredictable challenge and if it’s your first time you should set your mind to crossing the finish line with a smile on your face. Keep any targets realistic – use your training runs to help establish achievable goals. And when the day comes, pause to soak up the atmosphere and relish in your amazing accomplishment.

Get more of your marathon questions answered directly by Sarah during her Sweaty Betty Twitter takeover on Thursday 9 April. Follow #SBMarathonChat to get involved.
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