With one week to go till the Melbourne marathon runners are wondering what they should focus on. Kate Smyth Olympian and Naturopath at the Athlete Sanctuary shares some valuable information for all runners drawing on her experiences of completing 16 marathons.
- Get organised – (remember the 7 P’s: Proper Preparation and Planning Prevent a Pretty Poor Performance!) study the Melbourne marathon course, plan what you will wear, plan your transport to and from the event, look at the likely weather conditions, and co-ordinate who and where you will meet before and after the race ( take into consideration the thousands of people, runners and supporters and poor phone coverage)
- Review your “what if list” – a proven strategy elite athletes use to dispel anxiety and stress around unanticipated setbacks during the race. If you aren’t familiar with this -just write down the top 10 things that could possibly go wrong for you on race day. Next to each entry write a positive solution to each concerning issue. For example “My shoe laces come undone” – Solution- “I quickly stop and double tie them again”. If you tend to get overwelmed by performance anxiety on race morning, read the blog on effectively managing pre-race nerves https://athletesanctuary.com.au/handle-pre-race-nerves/
- Ideally you will have tried your drinks and nutritional support by now. Make sure you are familiar with the drinks supplied out on the course for the Melbourne marathon so you do not get any surprises on race day. Have enough supplies on hand both for race day warm-up and for recovery. If you are an elite athlete with drinks on “elite drinks tables”, ensure your drink containers are prepared, labeled and in the fridge before you head to bed. Making drinks on the morning of race day can add stress to the early morning start but making them too far in advance can also increase the chances of them going acidic. The trick is to make them right before you head to bed the night before and keep them cool.
- Get extra sleep. Have afternoon naps of 20-30 minutes 7-10 days leading into the race and get to bed early – before 9.30pm. If you find this difficult, have a hot bath with magnesium salts (Epsom or magnesium chloride) and lavender oil one hour before bed and listen to relaxing music.
- Avoid too much hype. Limit your social media time and switch off your computer earlier so you aren’t over stimulated before going to bed.
- Review your race goals and race plan, adjust them as needed after checking the weather conditions. Let’s face it you could see all four seasons in a Melbourne marathon, so be prepared. Avoid sprooking your goals to the world- be quietly confident and allow your legs to do the talking on race day.
- Two days before the event start your carbohydrate loading regime (ideally you will have practiced this on your long runs in the weeks before your event). Avoid over stuffing yourself. Despite the theoretical guidelines published in sports nutritional research, individual’s stomachs vary in size and capacity to digest foods. Everyone also has a unique microbiome composition of bacteria to digest foods. Therefore, eat to your level of comfort without feeling like a bloated pig, eat regularly (every 2 hours) and consume high energy complex carbohydrates through wholefoods such as wholegrain oats, quinoa or brown rice and sweet potato and other root vegetables rather than loading on sugary processed foods. Simple sugars found in processed foods will spike your blood sugar the day before you race, triggering an energy crash a few hours later before the race.
- The day before – prepare hydration/ electrolyte drinks and recovery protein supplies for before and after the race. Start to sip your electrolyte drinks constantly so you are well hydrated on race day. Stop drinking an hour before bed to avoid getting up during the night to visit the bathroom.
- Start to arrange your race gear including bib, pins, socks, shoes other running gear both for the race and afterwards. Ideally leave these items where they are easily found so you can get up and gather your gear in the morning feeling relaxed and prepared. Have your bag packed with “extras” like warm clothing for afterwards and suntan cream.
- Avoid trying anything new on race day- this includes shoes, clothing (unless you love blisters), sports drinks or gels (unless you want digestive issues), or race tactics that are not based on sound judgment and practice.
And finally, enjoy your marathon experience! Be satisfied and grateful of the hard work and preparation you’ve put in to your training. You will always learn something new about yourself with every marathon and have the opportunity to reflect and adjust your training and nutrition for future events.
About the author: Kate Smyth is a sports naturopath providing nutritional, integrated health support and coaching to runners of all levels. She has completed 16 marathons with a personal best time of 2 hours and 28 minutes. She competed for Australia in the women’s marathon at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games.