How to manage your pre-marathon nerves
You've signed up, got your number and spent months pounding the pavements through winter chills and high winds. With the London Marathon around the corner, what was a great idea is now fast becoming a reality, and the nerves are probably setting in.
Sound familiar? Despite clocking up hundreds of miles, it's natural to start doubting your ability, and imagining a variety of dire circumstances on the day; injury, cramps, needing the toilet, fatigue and, the most common, not making it to the end.
But instead of throwing the towel in, our expert tips will help you to make it to the finish line with ease.
By now you've probably figured out what foods help and hinder your runs, so stick to what you know on the day. In the lead-up to the big day you may feel desperate to squeeze in a few more miles, but reducing the length and intensity of your runs the week before, will enable your body to store the glycogen normally used to fuel your long runs.
You may have heard the common phrase “carb-loading” the day before, but be mindful of how much you consume. Your body can store enough carbohydrates to keep you going for approximately 90 minutes, after which it has to resort to burning fat reserves for energy and this may slow you down.
You just need to increase your carbohydrate intake by around 10% over the three to four days leading up to the race. On the day you may have pre-race tummy but try to eat something simple like toast and fruit, or porridge to release energy slowly. Don't try anything new or radical on the day and stay away from heavy, fatty foods.
Stick to a Routine
On the day, try to think of the marathon as just another long run – you've been doing them for months and today is just the same. With that in mind, keep things exactly as they are on any other training day. This will play down the event in your head, keeping nerves at bay and your body relaxed. Lose yourself in a playlist, put on the same trainers and tell your over-excited family to relax.
Okay, it won't quite feel like every other day but you can use this to your advantage. The atmosphere on the day is electric, filled with a nervous energy and buzz. This will change your nerves from dread and worry, to excited and humble to be there with so many incredible people.
When the gun goes off, you’ll get a surge of adrenaline but don't get carried away – it's a race not a sprint. Take a deep breath to put you back in the moment and set off slowly.
Be in the moment – soak in your surroundings and enjoy being a part of something of this scale. That being said, try to remain focused and be mindful to find a rhythm as quickly as possible and stick to it throughout. Try not to be overwhelmed by the finish line – simply tackle the day one mile at a time.
Hopefully with these few tip, all those months of hard work will pay off and you’ll be prepared in every way for the upcoming race.