Throughout today I have been viewing lots of posts on social media with pictures of people picking up their London Marathon numbers and feeling the general buzz that builds around the marathon with of lots of best wishes for those running tomorrow.
Although this may seem like a very late post I thought I would share with you my race preparations and experiences in the past and it may just reassure all of you racing tomorrow that what you are feeling right now is completely normal!
I am a sub 2hr40 marathoner but when it comes to dealing with the build-up and the night before the marathon I think we all have the same feelings of doubt, anxiety and sort of excitement!
I have run the London Marathon many times, whilst I have set my PB here I have had some absolute shockers too.
With all my marathons I distinctly remember the day before the race, I was very lucky on many occasions to stay in the elite hotel surrounded by some amazing athletes and some of my athletics idols. Although this may sound very glam all I remember was lounging around feeling the nerves building, feeling extremely tired and lethargic as my body was trying to store every ounce of energy I could and just wanting the big day to arrive.
I would smile and be upbeat around people but every now again the reality would hit me of what I was going to do the next day. I would have this little devil questioning can I do this? Have I prepared enough? Could I have done more? The Marathon journey is full of ups and downs with good races and bad, great long runs and not such good ones, but this is what puts you in good stead for the race when it starts to get tough and you need to dig in.
I always found my evening meal of mainly carbohydrates really hard to eat, although sick of the sight of pasta by now, I knew it was a must…… I really did not want to socialise but it was a good distraction so I made sure I surrounded myself with positive people and those I felt comfortable with and who would understand why I was not my usual bubbly self but did not judge me.
I would head back to my room, where I would have all my race kit laid out and bag packed for the early start. I would get to bed early but never sleep very well. My coach always said as long as you are off your feet and relaxing that’s all that matters, so that is what I did. I would watch Saturday night TV and then turn the lights out and hope I would get a few hours’ sleep. I do remember on many occasions waking with butterflies in my stomach looking at the clock and seeing I had only been asleep for a few hours!
So the morning of the Big day, I would go down to breakfast and now with butterflies galore! would force my breakfast down, there wasn’t much chitchat between the athletes as we were all now in the racing zone!
Arriving at the start was almost a relief, the work was done and there was no more I could do, I would take every opportunity to sit down and rest my legs until it was time to warm up. It was kind of reassuring being surrounded by thousands of runners all experiencing the same as myself.
I would do a gentle 10 min warm up with some stretches. I just wanted to get going! I always felt incredibly emotional on the start line, this was a mixture of nerves, anxiety but also pride of being on the start line of one of the most amazing marathons in the world I have ever experienced. I made sure I channelled this emotion into a positive energy to run.
I am not going to bore you with my race experiences as we all have our individual stories of good and bad to tell but please make sure you take every moment of the race in from start to finish.
Whether it is your 1st or 51st the marathon tests you mentally and physically but it is only you that is in control of what happens on Race day. You have dedicated so may hours to getting yourself to the start line, so you owe it to yourself to do the best you can. Your goal maybe to complete the distance or it could be to run a certain time, which ever it is, commit yourself. Stay head strong and when things get tough draw upon the hours of training you have put in after all your body will always find it’s optimal speed.
The crowds at London are out of this world and the support is just amazing so soak it up and most of all feel very proud getting on the start line tomorrow and create your own marathon story. You deserve it.
Good luck x
(Ex GB Endurance Athlete)
If you’re planning your race schedule and looking for your next races to enter, look no further than our 2016 events.
Marlborough Tri | 400m Swim – 32km Bike – 8km Run
An ideal event if you’re progressing from Sprint to Olympic distance. The 400m pool swim is followed by a fast bike route (loved by the cycling aficionados!) before finishing with a multi-terrain run.
Clevedon Sprint Tri | 400m Swim – 20km Bike – 5km Run
The newly refurbished Marine Lake provides a stunning swim venue and is great for building open water Tri experience. Tackle the undulating bike leg before embarking on a run accompanied by beautiful coastal views.
Marlborough Temple Trail HM – part of the Wilts Off Road Race League
Back for another year, tackle the challenging terrain and enjoy the sensational views as you race through stunning Marlborough Downs.
Grittleton 10km – Race #11 of the Wilts Road Race League
As last years race proved, the fast, officially measured course in a tranquil village setting, is a PB hunters paradise!
Whilst out training with a group of friends this week they asked me when were we going to start hill repetitions again? So I decided to introduce the new runners at my club to hill sessions. There was lots of huffing and puffing and not much chatting…the longstanding runners knew what was coming!
There are lots of articles explaining the correct technique on how to run hills but I wanted to share my own views on why you should embrace hills, rather than avoid them.
Hills are great for improving your cardiovascular fitness and leg strength.
I have used hill sessions in the past for improving my cross country running to help me deal with muddy and hilly conditions and get me back to full fitness. Hills can enable you to work your cardiovascular system at a high rate. A lot of runners simply don’t have good enough form or leg speed to raise their heart rate which hill repetitions can achieve. A short hill is an ideal way to do this.
Runners avoid hills for many reasons, for beginners the most common issue is they don’t have the knowledge or confidence. When you first experience hills it can be similar to when you first start running. Your breathing can become very laboured and your legs don’t feel like they’re your own! Your body will slowly adapt the more you do hills, just like your running so I would advise trying to find a route with a few gentle inclines to start with, this will give you a good recovery between each hill repetition.
If you are thinking of introducing a hill session into your weekly routine choose a hill that is not too steep. I use hills between 30 seconds to 60 seconds any more than this and your form starts to deteriorate. I vary the length of the hill repetitions, for example 4-5 sets of 30 seconds, 45 seconds and 60 seconds jogging back to the start for the recovery phase. By doing this I find it psychologically easier to deal with when the repetitions are decreasing in time and fatigue is setting in. This will enable you to hold your form for longer.
Simple but effective tips when running up hill:
- Slightly lean forward.
- Keep your torso tall looking a few metres in front.
- Slightly lower your knee lift.
- Shorten you stride length.
- Drive your arms to power you up the hill.
- Most importantly keep your cadence.
Downhill running can be very beneficial too but there is certainly an art to doing this. This is a skill I had to learn when I started with my coach Bruce Tulloh. Bruce always seemed to run downhill so effortlessly and so much quicker than me. I was 25 and he was 65! I knew to improve my performance especially over cross country I needed to change things.
Here are a few things I did:
- Lean forward naturally and comfortably.
- Don’t try to lean back with your upper body.
- Don’t let yourself get out of control.
- Don’t tense your upper body or resist the hill too much.
- Learn to stay coordinated and balanced as gravity does the work for you.
- During races you can actually run faster than your normal race pace downhill without increasing your effort, oxygen consumption or heart rate.
Simple but effective tips and benefits when running downhill:-
- Increase your leg speed.
- Quicken your strides helps keep you free from injury and soreness in the future.
- Allows you to train more consistently and become a much better runner.
- Stay light on your feet.
- Don’t break your speed by landing on your heels.
- Try to land on your mid-foot.
- Bring your arms out slightly wider to help you balance.
So when you next plan your steady run think of putting a few hills into the session.
Remember that your uphill surges are enhancing your economy, but your downhill rambles are also having a very positive impact on your running.
These uphill and downhill techniques helped me to achieve two Midland Cross Country Championship titles, fifth place in the English National Cross Country Championships and two England Cross Country vests.
The best reward when running up a hill is there is usually a lovely view at the top and we are very fortunate in Wiltshire to have some stunning scenery to enjoy.
But you need to run hills to be able to appreciate what’s at the top so give it a go and enter the Marlborough ‘Temple Trail’ Half Marathon on September 20th.
If you’re looking for hills and spectacular views…we guarantee you won’t be disappointed!
The solution is simple…take them with you!
I have been running for 32 years, I have two children and my life commitments have changed considerably from the days when I was competing. Back then I could train, come in, refuel and go back to bed to recover.
Talking with new runners it’s clear that one of the biggest barriers is that they are restricted with childcare, although I know not everyone has access to a running buggy or possibly their children are not old enough yet to cycle, but I thought I would share what I did this morning.
The dog needed walking, I was desperate to get out for a run and the children really needed some exercise.
So here we are accessing one of the Run England 321 routes from Stanley to Chippenham.
This particular route runs along a disused railway line and being traffic free means it’s safe for the kids on their bikes and relaxing for me.
The result…one happy (& exercised) family!
Living in Wiltshire we are lucky to have easy access to so many great running routes across this incredibly scenic county.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing run in a safe, peaceful environment as I was able to enjoy this morning with my family. Or if you’re wanting to push yourself and you’re seeking more challenging routes then Wiltshire has plenty to offer.
If you are looking for a new challenge that is going to not only test you, but also treat you to some stunning scenery look no further than the Marlborough Temple Trail Half Marathon which takes place on Sunday 20th September.
It’s payday, so to celebrate the best weekend of the month we’re offering you discounted entry into the Marlborough ‘Temple Trail’ Half Marathon (sponsored by CAT Communications)
Enter online using the code PAYDAY10 for a 10% discount
This offer is valid until Midnight on Sunday 2nd August.