Get ready for race or marathon

In recent years running has become a popular way to lose weight, get fit and de-stress. Events such as the Race For Life, Women’s Mini Marathon and local 5 and 10k races are growing each year. The popular Smartphone app ‘Couch to 5k’ has helped many first time runners to get out there and give it a go.

Once you have signed up for a marathon or race, you have committed yourself to a training and diet regimen. It's not possible to run a marathon unless you have conditioned your body well in advance. So here are a few tips to help you in the run up to race day.

The week before a race

You should already be eating the right food and training the right way but as you get closer to race day here are a few pointers:

Don’t overtrain- Keep to a realistic and a safe training schedule. If you try to overdo it, you could risk injury and permanent damage, so take it easy and don’t put your body under excessive pressure.

Drink plenty- You will need to be well hydrated for your race so avoid caffeine, alcohol and drink lots of water. Prevent getting a stich by sipping rather than gulping water before and while you train.

Take a rest day- Whether you take active rest or a complete rest day, give your body a break. Active rest could include a leisurely swim or casual walk but don’t be tempted to go mad and squeeze in a run just because you have the trainers on.

Set a race day plan- What pace are you aiming for? Are you going to start at the front or back of the field? Get your race plan together this week and start to implement some of it into your training sessions.

Break-in new trainers- It’s advisable not to wear new trainers for a race but if you must, remember to break them in well in advance.

The night before

Food for fuel- You may have been told to load up on carbs, but if you are not used to eating lots of them – be careful. Have a small bowl of pasta or potatoes but don’t forget protein is just as important. So choose fish, lean meat or eggs to go with your carbs. But don’t eat too late in the evening as it could keep you awake. Plan what you will eat the day of your race and be sure to time your breakfast right to prevent cramps. You will know yourself how long you need to eat before you race. Everyone is different so go by your own body.

Get your kit ready- Don’t wait until the morning, get your kit ready the day before. Make a list and check it off. And remember to choose your underwear wisely.

  • Race-number & safety pins
  • Vests, shorts/leggings, socks, trainers and spare shoes if needed
  • Towel and clothes for afterwards
  • Water and snacks for before and after, and protein to eat straight after the race
  • Plasters, blister patches and muscle support
  • Money if needed
  • Smartphone or MP3 player & holder if you use one
  • Medication if needed

Check out the “must know" information- Print off the race directions or store them on your phone. Get to know where all the facilities will be on the day, such as the bathrooms, registration desk, starting line, first –aid and bag area.

Know your way- Go over the race route so you don’t have to worry about it on the day. Plan how you will tackle inclines, uneven ground, and any wet areas you may come across. Plan your route to the nearest train station, bus stop or car park.

Get a good night's sleep- Pre-race nerves are normal, especially if you are a first-timer. But try to relax as much as you can. Don’t drink caffeine the night before and prepare your race pack early in the evening so you can switch off and enjoy a good sleep.

Prepare your feet- Some runners like to remove hard skin on their feet with a pumice stone. Soak your feet in warm water, gently remove any hard skin and moisturise. Use cushioned patches to protect any blisters or corns.

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