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Race day tips for your best ever marathon

posted on Monday, 18th April 2016 | find under Fitness
Each year, more than 36,000 people take to one of three start lines as part of the world-renowned London Marathon, preparing to run 26.2 miles via some of the city's most historic landmarks. To help you reach the finish post in the best shape possible, we've enlisted ambassador and ultra-marathon runner Sarah Russell for her top race day tips. 

marathon tips
Model Karol wears the Homestraight Run Tank and Santa Marta 3/4 Leggings

What to wear

Quality technical running gear will keep you supported, comfortable and confident.

The ultimate sports bra

A quality bra is essential for better posture and correct form. I wear Sweaty Betty’s Ultra Run Bra for maximum comfort and support.

Look down

Properly fitted running shoes are vital, go at least a size up from your regular footwear to allow toes to spread. Sweaty Betty’s range of Asics trainers are designed for running, so try the trainer guide to find the right fit for you. Socks are equally important, the Technical Run Socks are designed to protect from blisters and provide a drying capability not found with normal cotton socks.

Store your essentials

Taking too much with you can be annoying, but I recommend wearing a hydration belt such as the Elite Running Belt. For longer runs you need to pack fuel, plus this lightweight belt has a headphone feed for easy access to music.

The right fabric

Sweat-wicking, breathable and high-performance are all boxes that need to be ticked on race day. Opt for a pair of supportive bottoms that won’t chafe, I like the Incline Compression Leggings for extra muscle support. A few days before the marathon try a practice run in your full outfit to make sure you’re comfortable.

expert marathon tips
Ambassador Sarah-Russell on a training run pre-race day

Nutrition

Choosing and experimenting with the right food, hydration and fuel can make a huge difference to your running performance.

Before

Carbohydrates are key for runners, so eat a good breakfast such as porridge or toast a few hours before the race. In terms of carb loading, if you’re well trained, simply reducing the volume of training as you taper into a race will cause your body to naturally store glycogen. You can’t store more than your body is capable of, so stuffing your face with carbs for days before a run will just lead to bloating and rapid weight gain.

During

Any race over 75 minutes needs fuel, so make sure to carry some form of carbohydrate with you to keep you going. Stay ahead of the game by eating a block, chew or bite of a bar from around 40 minutes into the race, and continue every half an hour. 30-60g of carbs per hour is enough for most runners as otherwise you can make yourself feel sick.

In terms of hydration generally runners will need around 200-400ml of fluid per hour or 600-800ml in very hot conditions. Pay attention to your body and try not to down gallons of water as this can lead to Hyponatremia, a potentially fatal condition where runners drink too much fluid. I like to refuel when thirsty with an electrolyte based drink such as OSMO.

After

After exercise you have a ‘golden window’ of around 30-60 minutes where your body is most receptive to glycogen re-fuelling. Eat or drink a protein-based snack as soon as you can – research has found a simple chocolate milkshake is the perfect recovery fuel!

expert race day marathon tips
Model Karol wears the Flex Run PulloverChallenge Run Shorts and New Balance Vazee

Mindset

Relax and stick to your game plan, enjoy competing as getting to race day is an incredible achievement.

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.

Manage your expectations

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. When the day comes soak up the atmosphere and relish in your amazing accomplishment.

Clever runners walk

This is my secret weapon. The jog then walk method for long runs is a great way to reduce your risk of injury and conserve energy. Try a 1 minute walk every mile or 10 minutes, it’s been proven to work, even for runners achieving times of 3:30. For more information on this I recommend Jeff Galloway’s method. 

Shop Sweaty Betty’s range of marathon clothing, run pants, run accessories and run tops today. For more information on Sarah visit Sarah-Russell.co.uk.
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