As the London marathon gets closer and closer, I’ve been focusing on things other than running. This may sound a bit odd, but going out there and putting the hours in on the road are just one part of marathon training, and the running pretty much takes care of itself. It’s easy to overlook the other physical and mental work you also need to do to get to that start line in the best possible condition.
In addition to working the body with running, stretches and strength and conditioning, I have been taking on the advice of Raph at High5 and Paul at Solgar with respect to what I eat and when. This has meant the somewhat tedious task of tracking what I am eating and drinking each day (which with phone apps isn’t too onerous really, particularly when they can read barcodes). This allows me to make sure that I am taking in enough protein, carbohydrates and key nutrients so that my body recovers from tough sessions set by Richard at Full Potential, and gets stronger so that it can power me around those 26.2 miles at the speed I want to go. Taking on nutrients during those long runs and immediately afterwards is also key, and being able to practise my nutrition strategy for race day means that there is one less thing to worry about (including my preferred flavour of gel – I now know I like to save the orange and summer fruits ones for when I’m really working hard!).
I have also been testing out my kit for race day on those long runs, checking which socks and underwear are the most comfortable, as well as training in both my club vest and club crop top in case the weather is warm. Nothing should be left to chance on race day and, having experienced chafing in a half-marathon, it’s an experience I am not looking to repeat!
One thing that often gets overlooked is the mental aspect and it’s something that you can really only do for yourself, but I have set myself a reading list which covers mental strategies (with case studies) to keep going through those tough sections of a long race, like a marathon. I’ve also read inspirational stories of great endurance athletes, such as Chrissie Wellington and Diana Nyad. On race day, I want to have as many tools in my mental toolbox as I have in my physical toolbox. There’s also my marathon playlist, which has undergone several tweaks but may not actually be used on race day, given the phenomenal support reported along the route. It’s been great to keep me going on my solo long runs, though I may get a few odd looks when I mouth the words, and I try to keep the BPM in sync with what my feet need to do…
Fingers crossed this will all come together on race day to allow me to perform to my best. Not long now!