Congratulations! You’ve done all your hard work and training and the big day is just round the corner. To help you feel calm and relaxed ahead of your race, our operations director and running representative of Team GB, Paul Sellars, is on hand to offer some helpful advice:
Nutrition: What to eat in the morning before the race?
Number 1 tip goes for food and everything else – Never try anything new on race day, so whatever you normally have on training days, stick with it. I have the same breakfast every day whether racing or training which is a combination of home-made granola and home-made muesli (all the good oats, nuts, dried fruit, desiccated coconut and chocolate chips. Usually topped with a bit of freshfruit – blueberries are a favourite
Energy: What are the best methods to ensure that you maintain energy through the race?
This needs a bit of simple science to understand! In simple terms, the body gets its fuel from blood sugar – glycogen (stored in muscles and the liver) and body fat. The body burns fat at low intensity and switches to glycogen at high intensity (although a bit of glycogen is still needed in the fat burning state. General guideline is that upto 80% of max heart rate burns mostly fat, above that mostly glycogen (max heart rate can either be tested or 221-age gives an estimate). The general assumption is that you have enough body fat to last for many hours, but only enough glycogen for about 1-1.5 hours. So on that basis, if you plan to exercise at >80% of max heart rate for more than an hour, you need to replace your glycogen, which is best done through carbohydrate gels / sports drinks (Lucozade / Gatorade) as these are easiest for the body to digest and turn into energy quickly. If you plan to plod round slowly for an hour, you shouldn’t need to replace anything during the race. Failure to look after this is why runners hit the wall……when all available and convertible energy sources are depleted and the body cannot generate fuel fast enough for the current rate of use…..everything starts to slow down
Hydration: Tips on hydration before/during the race?
Hydration is as important as fuel – there is a view that as little as 2% dehydration can affect performance. That said, the balance is tricky to find – no one wants to stop for a pee every 10 minutes and no one likes that feeling of liquid sloshing around inside. The week before the race is most important for this, and you will see serious runners with water bottles by their side all week…gently taking in plenty of fluids over long periods. Prior to race start, I usually sip an electrolyte replacement solution dependent on thirst – and that is the key during the race – don’t feel you have to drink all of the time / at all of the water stations. I will have a plan dependent on the weather, and always try to get electrolyte replaced fluids in during the race (it is as bad to run out of salt, potassium etc as it is energy / fluid). You can use water station on the course for this, or carry your own in a bottle belt designed for the purpose. As a rule of thumb, you should pee straw coloured pee – not dark orange and not clear. Stay away from de-hydrators in the days leading up to the race – caffeine and alcohol being the chief culprits
Clothes: What type of clothing would be suited for race day?
Nothing new on race day again! I favour compression gear – top, pants and calf guards with something on top dependent on the weather. This is the tricky bit – you have to try to dress for how you think you will feel after about 15 mins running. So lots of people carry an old hoody into the start area and then leave it there (they are collected and given to charity), and then make sure you have something in the baggage drop area for the end of the race. The rest of it is a fashion show! Hats, caps, sun glasses, gloves etc etc. The most important thing is running shoes – again, nothing new on race day – they should be well tried and tested but not too worn.
24 hours before preparation: What to do/not to do, nutrition, hydration, exercise?
I would have a rest day 2 days before and then do a short, quick run the day before. Eat normally the day before – maybe some pasta in the evening, but don’t overload (carb loading is ancient science!). Finally, sleep well the few days before….
Best of luck to all!
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