The final Countdown: London Marathon

The final Countdown: London Marathon
Rob Jamieson out on his final long run
Steve Smith

Its less than two weeks to the London Marathon. Those early morning or late night long runs in the wet, cold and dark are now consigned to history. Like you, Rob Jamieson, completed his last long run this week running an even paced 20 miles in 3 hours 30 in the sunshine.  It’s now time to put your feet up and focus on recovery and staying healthy until the big day.

The taper is now in full swing and there will be nagging voices in your head encouraging you to do one more long run. But resist, it’s something commonly called “taper madness” that many runners will encounter in these final weeks. But don’t worry you really won’t gain or lose fitness during this time. A few shorter runs will ensure that the wheels are kept suitably well oiled.

It is the time to make plans for the day. By now you should have decided what running kit and shoes you will wear. Make sure its washed and you know where it is so you can easily find it. It may be tempting to try a new vest or socks that someone has kindly bought for you, but it really isn’t worth the risk. The golden rule is don’t wear anything you haven’t worn on a long run. Also take an old sweat shirt or a bin liner with a hole in to wear while you are waiting for the race to start. It can be chilly.This can quickly be discarded when you are on the move.

Also consider what nutrition you plan to take on the day and make sure you have enough of it. Again don’t try sports drinks or gels that you haven’t road tested in the past few weeks. Consider how you will carry the packets and sachets round the course. Shorts with pockets or a small belt are worth considering.

It’s also worth thinking about your meal plans in the 3-4 days before the race. Having a massive pasta loading session the night before really won’t help much as it will not have fully worked its way through your system.  Consider swapping high fibre foods for simpler carbs in the days leading you to the marathon. Stick to the breakfast that you are used to and ate before your long runs. Keep yourself hydrated in the weeks leading up to the day. But don’t overdo it. You don’t want to lose essential minerals that could lead to other problems if depleted. Check the colour of your urine which if healthy should be pale yellow. Try and get some rest by taking in some early nights and cut back on the alcohol intake. There will be plenty of time to celebrate later!

Getting to the start line fit and healthy is a feat in itself and should instil a degree of confidence. Visualise yourself around the course running well. It’s worth setting yourself a number of goals for the day. They should be achievable but depending on how things pan out on the day be a little more challenging. A first goal can be to finish and then other goals can be specific times which become progressively quicker. Having a single goal which then becomes unachievable at mile 14 can be very demotivating. Switching to a secondary goal can help keep that focus and get you to the finish line.

Work through a sensible placing plan. It’s quite easy to set off too quickly, but resist. Its far better to begin conservatively and then come on strong in the later stages of the race if you’ve energy to spare. London will have experienced pacers who are easy to identify, find your time and stick with them. Alternatively, the Expro will have free pacer wristbands available that show mile splits for estimated finish times.

Planning your travel is also important. You really don’t want to discover the night before the race that the train you had originally decided to take is now cancelled due to weekend engineering works. Ensure you work through your travel route and give yourself enough time to get to the event at least an hour before the start so that you can use the facilities and become familiar with the starting arrangements. There will be over 35,000 around the start and it can get congested.

Don’t worry about things that you cannot control. If the weather is warm, then it might affect the pace you run at. Wear sunscreen, stay hydrated, but again don’t feel obliged to take a bottle at every station.

Finally enjoy the day!

Community Southwark’s very own Robert Jamieson’s #reasontorun 26.2 miles in the London Marathon on 23 April is purely to raise funds for Southwark Giving.

You can support him by donating here.

Southwark Giving

Rob is running on behalf of Southwark Charities, find out more about Southwark Giving here.