Saturday, 22 December 2012

Advice for Marathons

I've received many words of advice this week for the upcoming marathon. The vast majority of them have been along the lines of "don't do anything, anything at all", with some just a little less extreme "if you really want to, you can go for a teeny, tiny run the day before, but other than that, don't do anything". Doing nothing has come easy this week as taper flu has been hitting me from every angle. My movements have pretty much not deviated from being either laid in bed, sat on the recliner, sat at my desk, sat in the car or wandering with zero haste between any of the above.

The other hot topic in advice-giving was eating, from the simple but effective "eat lots" to "carb loading is much more important than running the day before". Now, if there is one skill in endurance sport that I am naturally very  good at, it's carb-loading. Modesty aside, I've actually managed my carb-loading so effectively that I'm now sorted for carbs well into 2013 and once Christmas is over, I think my reserves may even reach as far as my next big race, in June.

Other favourites included:

"You've run halfs? Ahh no worries, if you can run a half, you can run a marathon. It's just longer"

"Whatever it throws at you, focus on the positives and don't let anyone or anything put you off your stride"

"Be patient, start easy and think of the negative split"

"Try and smile for the finish photo, I was crying in mine and it's not a good look!"

Emails from the race organiser have been coming in thick and fast this week too. It's very useful to know (if not mildly disconcerting) that the "clay bog has been fenced off" and that "there are a couple of puddles pretending to be lakes". It is actually good to know; mentally preparing to get wet and dirty is better than being surprised by it.

My favourite snippet from the race organiser was this, "Each water station will be full of goodies, water, orange squash, shotz energy gels, jaffa cakes, chocolate, digestive biscuits and bourbons, jelly babies, jelly beans, brandy, rum, mulled wine and some tea and coffee if you want to stop and chat if it is cold". That sounds like a very fine selection to me. At least if anything starts to hurt, there is the option to drink through the pain.

With all the illness, resting and carb-loading, I absolutely have not managed to get nice and light for the marathon. In actual fact I'm the heaviest I've been in about two years. However, if I take some advice from above and focus on the positives I can go all Dart 10k-esque and say that at least I will stay a bit warmer on a cold, winter marathon. Additionally, I have never run a marathon before so this will be the baseline. If I'm a bit weighty and a bit slow, who cares? I definitely won't be fast if I'm stopping for a brandy coffee and jaffa cakes. The joy of this will be in attempting to complete a marathon, something I - even with all the mad events I've done - previously thought was a silly idea. I still do think it's a silly idea, in fact I think adding booze to the mix is about the most sensible addition to the whole scenario.

So, fingers crossed my legs remember how to run after their two week holiday, I wake up tomorrow with a throat that doesn't have a hedgehog living in it, and my knees stay strong. Let the marathon adventure begin!

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