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Marathon Tips - Before, During and After

February 5, 2024

Before the Race

Make sure that before the marathon you choose shoes that are comfortable, supportive and right for your foot. Ideally you should wear these shoes for the last few weeks of training to break them in. Doing this will ensure that you are comfortable in the shoes and help you avoid painful blisters.

Practice running in your marathon outfit for one of your longer runs to make sure it doesn’t irritate your skin before race day.

In the last week you should only run up to 40 percent of your peak weekly mileage with most of that at the start of the week. If you normally have a rest day before your long run then do not run the day before the race. If you tend to run before only do a 2 or 3 mile run the day before the marathon at your marathon pace.

Gels and Fluids
During your long runs practice taking the gels that you will take on race day. Your body can only store enough muscle glycogen to fuel your body for 2 hours on average at marathon pace. By taking gels you can help to replace the carbohydrates you’ve lost to keep you going. It’s recommended to take your first gel with water somewhere between 45-60 minutes into the race depending on how well you react to gels. Then take them every 45-60 minutes after the first. Make sure to experiment with this during your training to find out what works best for your body. Try to drink both water and sports drinks that contain electrolytes to replace those that you’ve lost.

Mentally prepare
Athletes spend so much time physically preparing, try to take a few minutes to mentally prepare as well. Spend a few minutes each evening or morning visualising yourself running the marathon course and crossing the finish line. This will help you feel more confident on race day.

Sleep is so important, especially for long distance runners because your body repairs damaged tissue while you’re asleep. Try going to bed a bit earlier the week of the marathon to make sure you are getting enough sleep before the big day to allow for optimal performance.

Eat carbs
3 days before the marathon chose carbohydrate rich meals such as pasta, potatoes and bread to increase glycogen stores. This will help give you optimal energy the day of the marathon.

During the Race

Be confident

You’ve been training for months and the big day is here. Be confident in the work you’ve put in and enjoy it.

Eat breakfast
Eat a carbohydrate rich breakfast such as a bagel 2-3 hours before the race.

Gentle warm up
15 minutes before the race begin to stretch out your legs and lower back. Once you’re waiting in the start area gently jog in place to slowly increase your heart rate and continue to stretch to keep your legs warm.

Start slow
Start off running 10-15 seconds slower than your marathon pace so that you can finish strong. Pick up the pace after the first few miles.

Stay energized
Drink plenty of fluids and take the gels as you practiced in your long runs.

After the Race

Muscle aches and pain
In the days following the marathon you will experience muscles aches and pains, especially in the legs. To help ease this pain stretch and foam roll the legs especially focusing on the quads, calves, hamstrings and glutes. Dry needling and sports massage will help as well. Additionally, soaking the legs in an ice bath or taking a dip in the sea is a great way to help relieve muscle pain post-race.

Knee, shin, calf and foot pain

You may have a specific area that is particularly sore during or after the marathon. Common running injuries include meniscal irritation or tears, patellofemoral syndrome, IT band syndrome, shin splints, achillies tendonitis and plantar fasciitis. The best thing to do if you think you are experiencing one of these is to gently stretch and foam roll the legs, use ice and rest for a few days. If the pain persists it may be helpful to have a Physio assessment to find out exactly what your injury is and what’s causing it. Your Physio may do dry needling, manual therapy and give you exercises to help reduce your pain and prevent it from coming back during future runs.

Back pain
If your low back is achy post race try to gently stretch the low back by doing a spinal twist. If themuscles feel tight and sore you can gently use a small ball like a tennis ball roll into the muscles along the side of the spine. Do not use to much force and do not use a foam roller as this can irritate the facet joints along the sides of the spine. If the back is still sore in the days following the marathon you can also place heat on the low back. Dry needling and sports massage can help as well.

If you have any questions about injuries or treatments that we can provide to you before or after your marathon, please call us on 01 441 0100.