Melbourne Marathon Running Festival is upon us! Whether you are a verteran marathon runner or it’s your first go at 42km, you have likely (hopefully) been preparing for several months. With all the hard work done, it’s down to fine tuning and preparing for the event. Here are my top 5 tips to prepare for the marathon in the week leading up to the event.
1. Taper your training
It is important to go into a Marathon feeling fresh a rested. Hopefully by the week before the event you have already started to drop your weekly kms to bring you into peak physical condition- remember we make the most improvements when we REST after applying the training stimulus! However if you did absolutely nothing all week, you would probably wake up on race day feeling sluggish. The week of the event you want to just do a few short runs with some short duration speed work to keep you feeling fresh without accumulating fatigue.
2. Focus on sleep and recovery
Use the extra time you have (normally spent training) to really focus on recovery this taper week. Sleep is by far the most important recovery tool we have at our disposal (far better than any protein powder, magic masseuse or witchcraft). Try and aim for an extra hour on top of your normal sleep each night the week leading into the Marathon, you will be thankful for it when you have to get up early on race day!
If you still have spare time on top of this, foam rolling, stretching and massage can be helpful to ease tight muscles or heavy legs.
3. Prepare a nutrition plan
Think about what you are going to eat before, during and after the race and then most importantly TRY IT. Everyone is different and will need different amounts of energy and respond to foods in different ways.
Ideally you will have a low GI carbohydrate dense breakfast (weet-bix, porridge etc) 3-4 hours before the event and then a smaller snack (e.g. energy bars, honey sandwiches, muffins) about an hour beforehand.
With good fueling beforehand, a well trained person can store upto 2 hours worth of carbohydrate energy at a low intensity. But as intensity increases, so does carbohydrate use and you will need to refuel sooner. I recommend eating a very small high GI snack (lollies, bananas, gels) at 45 minutes, 90 minutes and then every half hour after until the finish. So if you are going to run a 5 hour time you will need 8 serves! Always try and eat BEFORE you get hungry.
After the event you want to consume some carbohydrates and protein within the first 30 minutes as it will be absorbed better. My personal favorite after a long event (not after every training session!) is hot chips and a milkshake. 500ml of milk has about 20g of protein which is as much as the body can absorb at one time and the salty chips will replace both carbohydrates and electrolytes lost through sweating.
And don’t forget hydration! Consume 100-200mls every 20-30 minutes during exercise!
4. Practice your warm up
Warming up before any event is important and also very individual. Some people will need a long warm up starting out slowly and then building into some intensity to get going. Others may find they become too fatigued for the actual event if they warm up for too long. If you are going to run a 4 hour + time, a 20-30 minute easy jog with some dynamic stretches may be sufficient. If you are going to run closer to 3 hours or perhaps are doing the 21 or 10km events a longer warm up including some intensity will be necessary to prepare your body to run fast. Plan a warm up and then do a test run during the week before, see how you feel and adjust accordingly on the day of the event.
5. Have a race plan
Most people will have a goal time or pace going into an event, even if you just want to finish it. It’s important to think about how you would like to race your event. Are you going to start out fast to try and do a PB but potentially blow up and slow down. Do you want to build into the race and aim for a negative split (run a faster 2nd half)?
Whilst it is important not to go too hard at the start, very rarely do people to a negative split. Especially in a long event natural fatigue comes into play too much. But at the same time don’t run too slow at the start, wanting to conserve energy, because the longer you are out there the slower you get.
Think about your current pace in training sessions and what you have been able to sustain. Account for a natural lift in pace due to the excitement of the event and subtract a little for fatigue at the end. Work out a plan and try and stick to it.
Good luck to all the participants across the different events of the Melbourne Marathon Running Festival!
How can Physiotherapy help you?
At Melbourne Sports Physiotherapy our goal is to get you moving pain free as soon as possible.
But, we also want you to actually move better and live a healthier, more active and fulfilling life!
If your sports, fitness training or work has been wearing your body down, book in with one of our expert physiotherapists so we can help you reduce your pain and bullet proof your body so that you can keep playing, training and working forever.
If you are showing some signs of injury or simply want help staying injury-free then book in with one of our highly experienced Physiotherapists today!