London Marathon week: top ten tips for taper week

The final miles of the London Marathon

  1. Don’t wing it – Running 26.2 miles is no mean feat and there are loads of things you need to do before race day. Make a list. Spend half an hour thinking about all the stuff you need to organise and write it down. Ticking a few of things off each day will help you keep a lid on race day nerves and will prevent that, “I don’t have any gels” panic moment at 9pm on Saturday night.
  2. Go early – Don’t leave going to the expo until Saturday afternoon. If you live in London then head over on Wednesday or Thursday and collect your number. It’ll be quieter and you wont spend all of Saturday on your feet.
  3. Don’t cram – running a marathon isn’t like when you were at school and tried to cram the night before for an exam. Nothing you do this week will improve your cardiovascular fitness so banging out a 15 miler in the hope of making up for lost training will, at best, make you tired. Short easy runs with a few miles at race pace will keep you feeling fresh during the week.
  4. Avoid self-sabotage – plenty of people have ruined their race by doing silly things the week before a marathon. Ask yourself if you really need to ride your bike to work or go to the climbing wall on Thursday. Go crazy next week, once the marathon is in the bag.
  5. Eat a normal diet – we see so many posts on social media about carbo-loading. Eating a kilo of pasta the night before the race, or booking a table at the local eat-your-weight pizza chain isn’t the answer. Sure, have a jacket potato instead of a salad for lunch on Friday but don’t go crazy. An excess of carbs in the days before the race (combined with refined sugar from gels) is a sure fire way of giving yourself GI distress.
  6. Sort your kit out – don’t wait until Saturday to sort out your kit for race day, do it over the next few days. It shouldn’t include anything new or untested. Now is not the time to unbox the new kicks.
  7. Don’t stress – work out what start zone you are in and how you are going to get there on race day. You can find this info out in the magazine sent to you a few weeks ago – its on page 30 & 31. There are three start zones – Red, Blue and Green. Work out which one you are in before Sunday and minimize race day stress. If you want to physically go and see we have a 6km shakeout run on Saturday for exactly this reason.
  8. Give the mouse finger a rest – don’t worry about the weather until Saturday morning. Clicking refresh on the BBC weather page every 5 seconds wont change the forecast. Long-range weather forecasts are rarely correct and all you are doing is adding to your stress levels. Check on Saturday morning and make plans then.
  9. Be mindful – take a few minutes to walk through race day in your head. Instead of focusing on the distance think about the things you are going to do on race day. Work out your 5km splits and write them down. Think about when you are going to take gels/nutrition and make a note of it. Consider (but don’t stress) things that could go wrong and develop solutions in your head.  This is your plan for race day and the one that is going to help you run your best race yet.
  10. Create a race day manifesto – think about, and write down if you want, the reasons you are running the London Marathon. Maybe it’s for a time, for a good cause or for just to see if you can. Whatever the reasons take a moment to look back and the journey you have been on and take stock. Running a marathon never gets easier and at times during the race you will ask yourself, “why am I doing this?” Whatever you put in your marathon manifesto will be your answer and will give you the power to push through the tough miles.

Photo credit: adidas UK

James Poole

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