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Make it to the finish line with our top tips

29 March 2016

Many of the 38,000 participants expected to participate this year will be running their first ever marathon. To support marathon runners this year, London Bridge Hospital offers the following advice to participants:

Top tips for the final weeks

Run it or race it?

You will have already decided how you are going to play this – whether you’re racing the clock or simply running to cross the finish line, you’ll have trained accordingly. Stick to this – don’t be tempted to change your target at this late stage. If you change your aims now, you’ll either injure yourself in training or end up disappointed on the day.

Keep it consistent

Try and do on race day exactly what you’ve been doing on your long training runs. Wear the same running clothes and trainers, eat the same breakfast and take on the same fluid and snacks throughout the race that you have been in training. If you haven’t been using gels in training then don’t start today, they can quickly upset your stomach if you aren’t used to them.

How to performance eat in marathon week

You should stick with your normal diet in the week before the marathon until around three days to go. From 21 April you should switch to a diet that’s high in carbohydrates (experts recommend 7-10g carbohydrate per kg of body weight) – this will help ensure your glycogen levels are fully stocked up. The day before the race eat little and often throughout the day and avoid large meals. In the days leading up to the big day you should drink plenty of fluid to make sure that you are as hydrated as possible before the big day – if you’ve done this right, your urine each morning before the event should be a pale straw colour.

Final work-out tip – Roll It Out

A foam roller is a runner’s best friend! You may already use it after your workouts, but are you doing it before? Using it as a pre-run warm up will help prepare your muscles, tendons and ligaments for exercise. Rolling increases blood flow and releases muscle tightness that can limit range of movement and interfere with proper running form. Be sure to hit the glutes, hamstrings, quads, hip flexors, calves and IT bands. Spend 30 to 60 seconds on each muscle group before launching into your dynamic warm-up.

Set your goals for the day

After months of training the big day will quickly arrive. Whether it's your first marathon or your 21st, you'll be both anxious and excited about how you will run 26.2 miles. On the day, there will be no more training that you can do to build endurance and strength – the most important thing you’ll need to focus on is your mind. You have to remember that you've trained well for this race and that your body is capable of running the full distance. Break the race into manageable chunks to give yourself mini-goals and enjoy the feeling of achievement throughout the race.

Enjoy it!

Never let your competitive mind overpower your enjoyment. When you're happy and relaxed, you're a better runner and you'll find that you won't need competitive thoughts to motivate you. Competitive thoughts lead to stress and sometimes feelings of self-doubt and judgment. Check those feelings at the start line and just enjoy the run.