Inspiring striding - Jim Dodsworth (651 running) 10 x marathon race day tips

Posted by Peter Goldring on

Spring marathon season is upon us, and you’ve done all the hard work over the dark winter months. Now’s the time to make it count! We’ve asked 651 Running head coach, Jim Dodsworth, to provide some tips for race day itself.   

  1. Preparation. Don’t leave anything to chance. Make sure that you have tried out everything that you are going to use for the marathon including kit, shoes, gels, pre-race meals etc. Now is not the time to try something new that you picked up at the expo.
  2. Logistics. Boring as it can be, read everything that the organisers have sent to you about the race. Know where you need to be (and when) and put a plan in place, so you’ll arrive in ample time. You have enough to worry about without the stress of being late for the start!
  3. Don’t start too fast. If you remember one thing from this blog post, it’s this! On the start line, the adrenaline will be pumping, and you’ll be eager to get going. The implication of this is that you start far faster than you planned. Don’t! The marathon is unforgiving and any time you think you have banked early in the race will come back to bite you. Some people believe that the second half of the race starts at 20 miles so even if you are feeling comfortable early on, trust your race plan and be disciplined. 
  4. The mental game. The marathon is as tough mentally as it is physically. There will be points during the race where you are likely to go through a bad patch. If you know this, you can work through it. It won’t last forever. Similarly, don’t think too much about the miles to come, run the mile you are in.
  5. Use the crowd. It’s really uplifting to hear people shouting for you and there’s nothing like the marathon to encourage crowd interaction. Use their energy, particularly in the later stages where it can make all the difference. If you are lucky enough to have family and friends coming to watch, agree in advance where they are going to be (for many marathons, they should be able to see you at multiple points) and roughly when you are likely to be there. Most of the bigger marathons have tracker apps now which really help supporters.
  6. Turn watch splits off.  As runners, many of us are reliant on our watches for paces / splits etc. This is undoubtedly a good thing, but it can catch you out in the marathon. In the big cities, high building can interfere with the GPS and provide skewed data leading to an erratic pace. To get round this, turn the auto lap feature off and hit the split button on your watch when you come through a mile / 5km point. This way you will know your accurate pace. You may also wish to have your planned splits written on something and taped to your wrist.
  7. Be wary at water stops. Being hydrated in the race is vital and you need drink liquid regularly. Just be careful as you do so. The 100 or so metres following a water stop are notorious for the number of cups and bottles all over the road. If you slip on one of these it can be race over so be particularly mindful of your footing as you go through.
  8. Be comfy. Your legs and feet will be sore when you finish. To mitigate for this, make sure you have a comfortable change of shoes (some people swear by flip flops) and clothing in your bag at the end. Post marathon you will be infinitely grateful for the foresight.
  9. Enjoy it. Whether this is your first or your 40th marathon, you will have achieved something amazing. Just getting to the start line is an accomplishment that most people never attain. Savour every moment (even the painful ones) as we are blessed to be able do this.

Wow, thank you so much Jim for joining us and giving us 10 top tips for marathon race day! This will help everyone with the up and coming Spring marathon season. 

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