You’ve spent months on end preparing for your first marathon. You’ve trained in darkness; run through sleet and rain; you’ve even gone teetotal. But, as race day draws near, things start to go wrong….
We all like to imagine that in the week before our marathon we’ll stay injury-free, our immune systems will be at their strongest and we’ll be cruising into race day with the knowledge we have that all important long run under our belts. The reality? It rarely ever happens that way.
If things go wrong, do not panic. There are solutions. Here’s five last-minute marathon fixes to ensure you sail into race day panic free.
If there’s one way of ensuring you sail into race day with confidence, it’s having the knowledge you have your last long run under your belt. But what happens if you were poorly in the weeks before, missed out on your long run, and all of a sudden you’re just a week away?
First of all, do not try doing your long run the weekend before. In the week before a race, it’s impossible to gain further fitness but vital to let your body rest. This rest period is crucial to allowing any muscle damage to repair.
If you’ve followed a training plan and put in the miles prior to ‘long run day’, the chances are, you’ll be fine.
Your friends weren’t as generous as you’d hoped, you’re a week away from marathon day and still haven’t hit your fundraising target. What do you do?
In many cases, you can still continue to fundraise after you’ve completed the marathon. If you are worried you won’t hit your fundraising target, then talk to your charity as soon as possible. “Talk to your fundraiser at your charity,” says Fiona Jerman at Age UK. “They should be able to help you come up with one or two ideas that will work for you. Enlist some friends to help too. Fundraising can be fun and if you get your friends involved, you’re sharing the load.”
You’re checking out the VMLM website and you see there’s isotonic drinks and carbo gels on course. Panic sets in. You’ve never consumed sports supplements in training before. What if they don’t agree with you?
Try them out the weekend before. When you head out for your last distance, try consuming an energy gel half way round. Assess how your body reacts and if your stomach agrees, chances are, you’ll be ok. Energy gels are designed to be easy to digest and consume, coming in a range of fruity, palatable flavours. Experiment with flavours and also try drinking water after taking a gel to minimise any stomach discomfort. The key is to stick to what you know and don’t experiment with anything new on race day.
You had hopes of kitting yourself out from head to toe with brand new kit. But you just never got round to it. What should you wear?
Again, stick to what you know. At this late stage, wear the kit you’ve trained in, week in, week out, and most importantly, don’t swap your trainers. Blisters, chafing and sores are the last thing you want holding you back over 26.2 miles, so stick to your favourite pair of age-old shorts!
You were doing your final long run and, suddenly, your foot/thigh/calf started to hurt. It still hurts. What are you going to do?
Think logically. Firstly, consider whether the nagging pain is an injury or quite simply a niggle. Tight quads, grumbling achilles and sore ITB can quickly be fixed via stretching and foam rolling. However, if the pain feels more serious, consult your GP or physio immediately. While a last-minute injury may well mean the end of your marathon, in some cases, a five-day resting period may just do the trick.