Running a Marathon - Two Weeks Out - Taper, Nutrition and How to Make it to the Start Line
If you’re running a marathon and you’ve made it to about two weeks to go, wahoo!!! Getting injured and not making it to the start line is more common than you might think.
The time between now and race day is critical. It's too late now to do any major training, but don't panic, you have done enough. You are going to be awesome. BUT, although most of us aren't likely to be challenging Eluid Kipchoge and Mo Farrah for the top spot (unless either Kipchoge and Farrah are reading this, hi guys!!) there is still plenty of time to get some extra advantages ahead of race day and none of them involve running at all.
1. Do not compare yourself to strangers on the Internet
This advice applies for the other 50 weeks of the year when you aren’t about to run a marathon too but do your best not to compare yourself against other runners online. There will be people on social media who have run further than you and faster than you. You may still get a faster time than them on the day. Try to stay positive and focus on what you’ve done and not what you haven’t. There is a lot that happens behind the scenes - I’m talking tears, achey muscles, incomplete sessions, missed sessions, blisters and chaffing - these are the things that don’t make it onto social media. If this is your first marathon then it can be daunting to see other people still doing pretty high mileage, ignore them. Stick to your plan. Tapering is a weird process but trust the process. It works.
2. Eat well
Now more than ever you’ve got to focus on your nutrition. Last year I attended an incredible workshop about nutrition a few weeks out from the marathon hosted by Science in Sport and led by the nutritionist for Team Sky. They showed us fascinating data collected from previous London Marathon runners who had answered surveys on their nutrition. The survey showed that those who had paid particular focus to the quality of their nutrition in the weeks leading up, and in particular, in the 48-72 hours beforehand had a marked improvement in their race times. I'm using that as an excuse to invest in my nutrition and I'm currently loving using the new Nutrifix App to locate healthy food near me*. It shows you all the foody facts about your potential meal with a breakdown of macros, perfect to ensure you're getting a good combination of carbs for energy and protein for muscle repair. You can find out all the details on the Nutrifix website or download the Nutifix app here
*Thanks Team Nutrifix for getting in contact about your app and asking me to review it. It's definitely one of those inventions when you say, "how has no-one created this sooner"
Did you know that a recent study in January of this year concluded that sleep is one of the most underutilised tools for weight-loss? When you're asleep your body has the opportunity to rest and regenerate itself. It comes as no surprise therefore that it has a fab effect on improving your running ability. Don't believe me? Try heading out on a long run after a few hours of disturbed sleep. I for one will be following a bedtime for at least two weeks up to the marathon.
4. Work out race weekend logistics
We all know that race day is not the time to try anything new but there is still time to work out how things will actually happen on the race weekend. If you're travelling down to London try and resist the temptation to go sight-seeing. You want your legs to be well rested and not pounding London streets taking selfies of London landmarks. Also, think about the Expo. It's actually a pretty long walk from the DLR to the Expo hall and there are lots of great brands and products to see. If you can, collect your race bib on the Friday, just to give your legs that extra buffer.
Wherever you live now is the time to think about the extra things you may need. Have you got Vaseline? Safety pins? Race nutrition (enough for your remaining runs and the big day)? Hair bands? Hair grips? An old jumper to wear to and leave at the start line? Do you need to get spares of anything? How will you get there? How will you spot your family in the crowds - they may want to buy a balloon or take an umbrella! There's lots to think about now to make the final days less stressful, see below ..
5. Remove all stress
Okay, okay stay with me. I know that this might sound easier said than done after the long list above but what I mean is that now is not the time to take on anything extra. Don't commit to any last minute plans or arrangements. When your body is stressed it releases a stress hormone called cortisol. This will change the way your body responds to situations, it can increase tiredness and make you more susceptible to picking up infection. Instead of racing through as many chores as possible try to make life simple for the next few weeks.
Above all, remember you've got this. You haven't come this far to only come this far. Try and think as marathon day as the lap of honour for all of those early morning training sessions, the runs in the rain and the snow, the achey muscles and the sore and blistered feet. You're about to experience one of the top ten moments of your life!
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