It’s that time of the year where marathons and running events are happening in quick succession. With the Boston, Paris and Brighton marathons having just taken place, the Virgin Money London Marathon is now taking centre stage.
Aspire has come up with some top tips to help you prepare ahead of the London Marathon and any future running events you may be participating in.
What’s the first thing you think of when getting ready to run? More than likely finding your favourite pair of running shoes.
Buying the right shoes can be a minefield as there are so many different varieties available, all offering lots of different support and benefits to your feet and running style. If you’re not sure where to start, there is no better alternative than to head to your local running shop and test out a few different trainers to find the pair best suited to you, rather than to order online and having to send them back time and again because they are not right for you.
You should buy and run in your marathon shoe a few months before the race to ensure they won’t cause you any unbearable blisters during the race. However, if they do become worn out in training, make sure you buy another pair exactly the same from the same year of manufacture, as one small unnoticeable change could have a massive effect if it is uncomfortable for your foot.
You may see the marathon as a race, but choosing a lightweight shoe with little support may be detrimental to your performance, while choosing a shoe with more cushioning and support may be more beneficial, especially if you aren’t a seasoned runner.
Socks are also an important part of your kit, and many companies focus on designing effective running socks to benefit runners.
If you do suffer from socks that rub, then choosing the right pair could be the solution to your problem. A technical sock that has padding in the area that rubs is advisable. Even if it you don’t need padding, wearing a technical breathing sock will keep your feet happy and limit the amount of sweating your feet will incur – as well as put a stop to stinking the house out for the foreseeable future!
Tops and shorts
You want to be comfortable in your running gear, so don’t simply leave it to the night before to try on your running kit because you want to keep it clean and fresh for the race. You wouldn’t want to be running in a top that rides up or shorts that are too tight too run in.
Of course, a technical tee or vest are a popular option for many, as the fabrics whisk away your sweat for a more comfortable run. But dressing up and running as a crocodile may be more your running style!
It’s important to remember that just because it fits nicely and feels comfortable while you are standing still in the shop, it may not feel the same after an hour so of running.
Not always the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about doing a lot of activities in the UK, but considering the sun could be a life saver: imagine having to run while squinting for over three hours. Buying a running cap could make your marathon much more enjoyable, or more likely (if you’re in the UK) it will be raining so a running cap could prevent the rain getting in your eyes. Failing that, a pair of sunglasses wouldn’t go amiss.
The large amount of repeated movement during a marathon can lead to lots of chafing, especially around the nipple area. There are many nipple guards on the market for men and a good sports bra will be able to prevent such a situation for women. But you can never go wrong with protecting yourself with a bit of Vaseline on those vulnerable areas.
A marathon isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, even if you are doing it for a good cause, or boredom may set in so you could pack your headphones and create a playlist to keep you pumped and energised throughout or have multiple podcasts lined up to listen to to distract yourself.
Make sure you have a comfortable watch you can wear when you are running, to keep track of your timing and pacing. Without it you may find yourself running way over the pace you’ve been training at and burn yourself out.
Nutrition is essential when it comes to preparing for a marathon. You may want to start carb loading 2-3 days before the marathon, with lots of pasta and white rice dishes to build up your glycogen stores and keep you supplied with energy throughout the race. Make sure you get up in plenty of time on race day to have a hearty breakfast to fuel your body.
There are lots of meal plans available online now, so with a quick look you will be able to find something you like and works around you.
Hydration belts are becoming an increasingly popular feature with runners. Of course, the trusty water bottle is always welcome, but energy gel packs are becoming an increasingly good alternative. There are the all-important electrolyte gels as well as caffeine and isotonic ones. But try and pace yourself to take them at regular time periods during the race (around every 45 minutes), and ensure you are taking them before you feel tired because by then it’s too late. Also make sure you’ve taken them previously and that you know your stomach won’t react adversely over a longer period of time.
Follow these tips and we are sure you will be onto a winner. You never know, you could be hitting that marathon PB in no time…