Did Somebody Say Marathon? - Last minute checklist!
Aaaaaagggggghhhhhhhh!! Ok sorry mini freak out over...with just a few more sleeps to the marathon you ladies had better make sure you're all set for the big day. You don't want to be panic-stricken the night before, so let's go through the checklist together shall we! I like to create a little pre-marathon shrine, with my kit, gels, ipod all ready to go in one little bundle of love. If you kiss the shrine everyday it will take minutes off your time according to Joslyn-Thompson-made-up-folklore!
1. Race number and timing device - outside of your legs and sports bra, these are your two essentials! DO NOT FORGET THEM!! The marathon expo starts on Wednesday 21st where you go and pick these babies up. Don't forget to bring photographic ID with you or you ain't racing, your passport or drivers licence are best to use.
2. Tried and tested clothing. Make sure you have run for a decent distance (at least 10 miles) in your top, bottoms, sports bra, socks and knickers that you intend to race in on the day. I know an awful tale of a young lady who ran in a new sports bra in training and it chaffed her so badly that she was not able to compete in the marathon, not good!! If you are concerned about keeping yourself warm before the race, wear old sportswear that you can ditch before the start.
3. Trainers - Again, you need to have run a decent distance in the trainers you intend to compete in. Trainer-life for marathon competitors is approx 3-6 months. Either way, you don't want to be sporting a shiny new pair on the day unless you want some serious blister action! You know how long it takes to wear in a good heel ladies, treat your trainers with the same respect! While you're at it, tie your timing device using the instructions provided to your trainers as soon as you get it, it saves stress on the day!
4. Energy along the way - DO NOT EXPERIMENT ON RACE DAY!!! Whether you're a sports gel girl, a sports drink girl or a jaffa cake smuggler, make sure you have tested your chosen energy method out on long training runs. Oh, and make sure they're isotonic, you want to make sure you are replenishing some of the salrs you will be losing through sweat. Also, know how you are going to transport your energy supply around the race. 26.2 miles is a long time to be carrying anything but your butt around the course, so make sure you know where you are storing the extras. I usually stuff my gels in an armband gel carrier which I plan to purchase at the expo on Thursday! I tried a bumbag before and it was too much of a pain to faff around with. There will be plenty of water along the course so obviously you don't need to carry that. There are also lucozade gel and energy drink stations, but don't rely on these to get you through, supply your own ladies!
5. Get your food right. (See piece on carb loading below). I know I don't have to say this ever but a double cheeseburger with fries is not how you wanna be rolling the night before the race! Load those carbs up baby! Eating a high carb meal with some protein 3-4 hours before bed will set you up for the following day. Similarly you want to ensure that you eat your carb loaded breakfast with due time to digest before the start gun. I generally have my porridge a good 3 hours before I'm due to race, so at about 6.45am for a 9.45 start. If you feel like you're not digesting quick enough, chew a bit of gum to get the digestive juices flowing. Stay well hydrated before and on race day, your urine should be a light yellow colour, any darker than that and you're dehydrated! It's usually a darker colour in the mornings anyway but it should be clear-ish by lunchtime.
6. Have your beats all set! - If you are running with an ipod make sure it is charged and loaded up with some banging tunes that are gonna get you through!! I very sadly had a tune for exactly where I was going to be in line with the inspiration I thought I would need at each stage. From classical to hardcore hip hop, 'twas an eclectic mix that got me through!! Similarly if you are using any other sort of electronic device like a heart rate monitor or a GPS watch, make sure they are charged up to the max!!
7. Check out how you're going to get there - London has had some serious engineering works for the last gazillion weekends so make sure you check with Transport for London http://tfl.gov.uk for planned engineering works on the day. Give yourself PLENTY of time for delays, fashionably late is not cool on marathon day!
8. Get a little spectator love! At mile 20 I get a little grouchy, but seeing someone I know, or hearing someone call my name, gives me that extra lift to keep me going. Let your friends know where you think you might be and at what stage, as well as what you will be wearing so that they have a better chance of spotting you. Similarly iron your name onto your top so that random strangers who you will never see again can shout out words of encouragement as you tootle along.
9. Have an idea of the course. This helps with visualising yourself in the race. Are you gonna struggle at mile 18? Visualise yourself strong and powerful at mile 18 and know the landmarks around you. Visualisation is an extremely powwrful tool in sport, use it!
10. Now that you have your pre-marathon shrine with all of your bits and bobs, my final word of advice is to ENJOY IT!!! You've worked hard for months to get the pins ready, put a smile on your face and go get 'em!!