If a marathon is on your bucket list or you have one coming up – take note. My friend Jim has completed 7 marathons – what a legend! His first 6 were in 9 months of each other. From bursting a hip flexor in the Arctic circle to running all over the world the guy has bags of stories and some great advice. With my marathon fast approaching I was delighted he was happy to share his top tips.
1 – If you think it’s going to rub, it will. If you think it probably won’t rub, it will. You’d be amazed at the friction various bits of you will be subjected to over 42 kilometres. No-one wants sad clown face. VASELINE ALL THE THINGS! If you’ve trained, you know the places you blister. Stick some Compeed plasters on them before the event. Compeed is your friend.
2 -Members of the general public will hand out sweets and drinks during your marathon. Be careful when you take these. Sometimes it’s red bull. Red bull is not your friend.
3 -Select and break in the socks you’re going to wear at least a couple of weeks before your event. This is the difference between crippling blisters at mile 10 and getting them near the finish (or at all).
4 -Make your music playlist well in advance of the event. Keep it up tempo but not completely thrashing it until about mile 18 when everyone starts to hit the wall a bit.
5 -Get an energy gel you like the taste of well in advance. There’s nothing worse than being at mile 15, needing a wee boost and suddenly you are spitting out gel that says it’s flavoured as “strawberry and vanilla” when it actually should be labelled as ‘syrup infused with wet dog smell’. When you’re actually running don’t overdo it on the energy gels. 5 is about as much as you should take, otherwise you could end up pulling a Paula.
6 -Run your own race. It’s a marathon, not a 100m sprint. The only person who you’re competing with is you. Stay within sight of your pacer, but don’t be too disheartened if you drop back a bit. Just keep going!
7 – If you get to an area of the course with a bit of a crowd, take your headphones out if you feel like it. The crowd will give you a boost, especially near the finish line.
8 -Carb load the night before like your life depends on it. There’s usually a ‘pasta party’ at the expo before the marathon. This a good way to get a bit of the community feel you’ll get the next day at the race. You might find a running buddy! Get a good water strategy in place. Take on a litre or so on the morning of your event (not right before obviously). Remember to keep the salt levels up.
9 – Get a protein shake ASAP after you’re done because your body will need the protein for repairs.
10 -If you’re in need of a bit of inspiration before the run, read ‘Born to Run’. It’s an amazing book about a tribe in South America who do Ultramarathons just for fun. There’s a few tips about running form in there too. ‘Think Easy, Light, Smooth, and Fast. You start with easy, because if that’s all you get, that’s not so bad. Then work on light. Make it effortless, like you don’t care how high the hill is or how far you’ve got to go. When you’ve practiced that so long that you forget you’re practicing, you work on making it smooooooth. You won’t have to worry about the last one – you get those three, and you’ll be fast.”
11 – Once you’ve got your medal, BE SMUG! You’ll have done something amazing that only around half a percent of the population of the world have done. Something that killed the first person to do it. Something that’s actually making your muscles bleed by the end, and you’ve done it all for a great cause. Well done future you!