Run a stress-free marathon with these 6 tips
Congratulations, you're at the starting line of your marathon, and the hardest part of your training is already finished! You've probably spent months preparing to get to this point - long runs in cold weather (in fact, in all weather conditions), strength training and a healthy eating program are all part of marathon preparations. All that's left to do now is the actual race itself!
Planning and preparing in advance of race day means you'll be less stressed when you get to the start, so you can focus on your strategy and your performance to ensure you reach your goals. So how do you relieve stress before a marathon? Here are our 6 tips that will ensure your marathon is stress-free.
#1. Plan your morning
We can't emphasise enough the importance of planning and being organised before your marathon. You're going to be running 26.2 miles, so make sure the day before the race is set aside as prep day! You'll want to plan transportation in advance, so that you know how you're getting there, and allow yourself plenty of extra time so you're not rushing. You will also want to make a list and pack everything you need, including breakfast, water, money for food, your gear, your running shoes etc. Also make sure you pack enough warm clothes to wear before the race starts - don't forget your running shoes!
#2. Learn the course
The marathon you're running will present you with its own unique challenges; all marathons are different. Whilst some might include long, straight stretches of quiet road, others may have mostly downhill terrain and some may have challenging uphill stretches where you'll need all your strength and stamina. It is important to spend the time getting to know the course map before the big day. Your running strategy and how you approach the race will depend on the type of course you're running. For example, a course which begins with a downhill or straight stretch but later has hills will need you to start more slowly and conserve your energy! Whilst a flat course, such as the London Marathon, means you can go all-out (although you should still begin conservatively for the first couple of miles). Make sure you run in the middle of the road, as roads slope naturally towards the kerb and you don't want to be running at an angle!
#3. Stick to your routine
Your marathon training hopefully included plenty of long runs, workouts and strength training to prepare your body physically for the stress of running a marathon. But your training probably also included certain habits; a certain pre-training breakfast or post-workout snack - and when it comes to race day, you should try to stick to these routines. Don't make any big changes. That means having the same breakfast as you would normally have (maybe add a few carbs to boost your performance) and if you usually have coffee, do the same on race day, as caffeine can enhance your performance! Make sure you run in the same shoes you trained in - now is definitely not the time to be breaking in new shoes! Well-fitting, comfortable running shoes are essential and will help prevent blisters.
#4. Believe in yourself
It's normal to feel anxious and nervous on race day. But you've trained hard for months and you're prepared to run! Being nervous and anxious is just a sign that this is important to you. Be positive and think of the marathon as just another long, hard training run - don't think about the scale of it. If you need a boost, there are running mantras that can help! You have already done most of the hard work, so now you can enjoy testing yourself to see what you can achieve!
#5. Take your time
It can be tempting to set off running hard at the beginning of a race but it's far better to start conservatively for the first couple of miles. You'll burn off sugar and energy that your body will need at the end of the race, if you hit the starting line too hard. So take your time, pace yourself and focus - start slowly and you're sure to reach your personal goals.
#6. Get some rest
The lead-up to your race should be as stress-free as possible. Don't spend the days before your marathon doing intense workouts or long runs. Relax, eat healthy meals, get a good night's sleep - and don't work longer hours than usual! If possible, book a few days off work to rest and prepare your body for the fitness challenge ahead; take care of yourself.
We hope these 6 tips will help you all to run your best marathon yet - one that's totally stress-free!
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