How to prepare before a marathon
Advice for runners a month before race day
Training for a marathon is tough. Not only do you have to think about training for the marathon, but you also have to consider your diet, raising money for charity, what kit to wear and getting enough rest. The advice is endless and sometimes it can become a bit overwhelming.
We caught up with one of the Virgin Money Giving fundraising gurus Jonathan Barr, who has ran over 20 marathons, to get some top tips on where you should be a month before race day.
Where you should be in your training
Just over a month away from the Virgin Money London Marathon you should be hitting your longest distance in training, ideally at least 18 to 20 miles but better still around 22 miles. The reason is, on marathon day when you are feeling exasperated around 22 miles heading towards the Embankment, having the confidence that you have done that distance before will help you push on for the last four miles as they can be tough! If you want more advice on where you should be on your training, then check out the Virgin Money London Marathon’s training plans.
Also, try not to think about the 26.2 mile distance too much before race day. I focus on the start of the race and break down the total marathon distance into smaller distances, such as two 13.1 mile runs. That way I find it mentally easier to handle on the day, as you feel you are ticking the miles off more quickly rather than counting the full distance.
What you should be eating
Diet is a tricky thing and I am not an expert. But junk food is not the answer and neither is loads of beer or wine. Keep it simple, maintain a balanced diet and eat plenty of food that will sustain you. Now is the time to start eating right – not the day before.
Drinking lots of water is also important. I take a 2.2 litre bottle of water with me to work every day and although I struggle to drink it all, I do try.
Achieving your fundraising target
If you’ve finished your fundraising by this point, then that’s fantastic! If not, don’t worry. It’s time to start sending email reminders to friends, family and anyone you know reminding them you are about to put your body through a 26.2 mile marathon and any encouragement they can give you and your cause would be so uplifting (and appreciated, of course).
It’s also worth posting out on social media the morning of race day and after completing the race. After completing the Tokyo Marathon I decided at the last minute to raise money for a charity, and having people support me via social media definitely pushed me on where I got a personal best!
Choosing your race day marathon kit
You should already be used to your running kit, including your trainers. Do not turn up on marathon day with a brand new kit, as 26.2 miles is not the place to experiment and wear in a new kit and trainers.
Be sure to sort what you are going to wear on race day two or three days beforehand. Lay your kit out on the Saturday afternoon and securely put your bib number on your race shirt. The number of people I have seen fumbling for safety pins on the trains to Greenwich and at the start line is unbelievable – you want to be at your most relaxed, so be kind to yourself and be organised.