(Feature photo credits to JustRunLah!)

Marathon running is a sport enjoyed by many.  Somehow participating in marathons gives this sense of achievement crossing the finishing line but sometimes if one slacks on the preparation before the run, the pains come haunting after. If you are an avid runner who is participating in the upcoming Standard Chartered Marathon, here are a few pointers that you would like to consider taking up during your prep for your upcoming marathon and who knows, you could perhaps clock your personal best!

1-2 months before the marathon

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Start to plan your training routine by adding on the running distance covered week by week. If possible, incorporate swimming into your training regime to help with your breathing during the run. If marathon running is new to you, start small. Your first run should be of a comfortable distance that you can handle and perhaps subsequently increase the distance thereafter. In my opinion, increasing the running distance by 5km after every 2 runs is quite a good pace. For example, you have clocked 3km for your first run, you can remain the same distance for your second run and for your third run, up the game to 8km, so on and so forth.  Now you will wonder how often should I run? Personally, I feel 2 times a week is sufficient but if you can’t, don’t fret. One time per week is also good enough to keep the momentum going.Well, the distances mentioned above varies depending on the marathon distance that you have signed up for. For regular runners training for a half/full marathon, you need to increase >5km after every 2 runs, maybe even increase 5km after every run so that you would have ran at least 80% – 90% of the distance that you have signed up for.

Other than training for the distance that you have set out for, take care of your health by getting sufficient rest whenever you feel tired. Do take note not to over exert during this crucial period; you don’t want to end up having to forfeit the run because of an injury. Eat well and sleep well.

A week before the marathon

Photo credits to misstamchiak

This applies especially for 21km or 42.195km runners. Gradually load your diet with more carbohydrates. One can’t emphasize on this enough. You will be burning quite a hefty amount of calories during the run and you don’t want your body to send hungry signals to your brain during the running course. When you load on carbs, you are building glycogen in your muscles and you need glycogen during the run. This is because during the marathon, both glycogen and fat are burned to provide your body with the energy, but it is harder to convert fats to fuel thus glycogen plays a vital role. When glycogen runs out, your body will have no choice but to slow down and start to burn fats into energy, which means your running speed will decrease just to make way for this. Therefore, loading on carbs will contribute greatly to you being able to clock your personal best without having to overwork your body.

Also during this week, try not to run long distances so as to keep your legs in tip top condition for the marathon. If you feel you need to run, limit yourself to short runs of 15-20 mins.

One day before the marathon

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Other than continuing the carbo-loading practice, hydrate yourself well. Drink plenty of fluids before the marathon to prevent possible dehydration during the run. You will notice that when there is sufficient hydration, you will tend not to rely so much on the water points that are present during the course and it is much more pleasant because to slow down and drink and then pick up the pace after every water point can be quite draining after a while.

On marathon day

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Wear comfortable and familiar running gear. It is not wise to wear your new running shoes, socks or some new running equipment that you will struggle with during the run. Not only will it impede your progress, it may pose as a hazard to you. Tie the shoelaces right to prevent your feet from slipping which may cause runner’s toe. It is scary to wake up to black toenails when its not even halloween fellas! For competitive runners who would like to track your progress during the course, have a reliable running assistant e.g. Garmin Forerunner series by your side and keep track of your running pace.

Upon reaching the venue, do proper warm up exercises. Take all the time that you need. If you don’t warm up properly, you will suffer later trust me. Been there, done that.

Keep your spirits high during the run! Listen to some music using your bluetooth earphone if it helps with your pace and breathe through your mouth to get as much oxygen as you can in one breath, plus there’s less tension as compared to breathing through your nostrils. Most importantly, enjoy the run to the fullest!

Right after completing your run, don’t forget to do some cool down exercises as well by stretching those muscles so that you don’t ache so much the next day. Once you have reached home, shower and have a long, good sleep. Hydrate yourself too!

One day after marathon day

Congratulations! By now, reality should have set in that you have completed a marathon which you felt it was unbelievable on race day because the aches have arrived. Don’t worry, they will go away after a day or two. Before your start your training for the next race, please rest at least a week to ensure your body has fully recovered from the race.

Disclaimer – you don’t have to follow the above pointers strictly but hope the above pointers give you some direction on what to do and what not to. Ultimately, its your own body and you know it best. Listen to your body during the run and don’t over exert.

On a ending note, running does not only help with your health, it is also contributes to your emotional health. Read this book ‘Run For Your Life’ to find out more.

Signing off,
Resident Fox