As seen on The Athletes Foot Training Hub, written by Tristan Miller
The idea of running a marathon, or even a half marathon, is kind of scary. We do an incredible amount of training to get to the start line, with the hope that our bodies will be tough enough on the day to carry us through the race. But you can ruin it all with a few careless mistakes in the days before the event. Here are some pre, during and post race tips to ensure a smooth start and a full recovery:
LEADING UP TO RACE DAY
Your body has earned the right to rest before you smash it on race day. You will not get any faster in the week before the race, so just take it easy and do all your running at 3/4 pace. No sprints. Maybe a couple of stride throughs. But no serious distance. If you’re nervous, go for a swim. Or even better, harness those nerves and use them in the marathon itself!
2. Eat Healthy!
Plenty of protein at the beginning of the week, including fish and fresh salads with beans and vegetables. Your body will relish every nutrient you can feed it from Sunday to Thursday. From mid week, drink plenty of fluids – a rotation of water, electrolyte and protein drink is fine. At week’s end, Thursday onwards, I eat lots of brown rice and wholemeal pasta. Anything too white is worthless, so keep eating food that has nutrients, not just plain carbs.
I only recommend this for the beginning of the week. It’s good to treat your body to a decent sports massage, but don’t run the next day. Ask your chosen practitioner to have a go at any of the niggles you’ve accumulated and iron out any knots. At least once a day, stretch those ITBs on the Foam Roller Of Death!
4. Get Stretchy!
Don’t do anything too uncomfortable in the days leading up to the race, but make sure you keep stretching those big muscles. Each one will have it’s job to do on the day, so make sure it’s limber and ready for action. I recommend a good bit of skipping to warm up before you stretch – don’t stretch cold muscles!
5. Be Ready & Rise Early!
Set your alarm for at least 2 hours before race start. Get out of bed, knowing that everything is laid out from the night before. I don’t eat before a race, because my tummy is still working on dinner. If you need to eat now is the time, but just a piece of toast should suffice. Kit yourself up and go for a short jog around the block (no more than 10 minutes) to shock your body into action. It’ll force you to go to the toilet before you leave home and it’ll shake out most of those pre-race nerves.
6. Stay Calm & Keep Warm!
With all this spare time, you won’t be in a rush to get to the start. Get down there with plenty of time and make sure you have disposable a “toss top” (cheap opp-shop jumper or jacket) to take off and throw out of the coral 5 minutes before you start. No sense in freezing at the start and no need to be freaking out about the race – you’ve trained for this, so you’ll be fine.
7. Run Like Crazy!!
Race smart, stick to your plan and keep on challenging yourself to be your best throughout the race. You’ve got this. You’re A Champion!
POST RACE AND RECOVERY
8. Ice Bath!
If it doesn’t hurt afterwards, you probably didn’t run fast enough. It may just be delayed soreness, but to avoid the pain, get those legs into cold water as soon as you can. I recommend a bath full of ice, 3 x 5 minutes, with 2 minutes break. If you can’t do the ice bath, then stand in the sea or a cold pool of some sort. You just want to scare your blood back toward your heart, instead of having it intensify the inflammation in your muscles. I find this by far the best recovery system!
9. Race Review!
You got some of your plan right and you got some wrong. No matter how your race has turned out, you’ve achieved a lot by just being a part of the event. You should be proud of yourself and don’t get caught up in an emotional analysis. Be objective and consider the lessons that you can take away. Then get ready to do it all again with a wealth of race experience.
Well done. You should be recovered and ready to go in no time. You may even be ready for another marathon in another country next week?! There are plenty to choose from!!