Race Day Coping Mechanisms

The final minutes and start

Wow, it’s finally here! Now it really is time to keep your head. You will hear all the best excuses being uttered by many as you walk around or stand in the pen waiting to start. You know the characters I mean here, the ones who are already apologising for their result or offering reasons why it’s going to be tough for them. Time to think again about maybe 3 runs that went well in training that you have banked or the cause and reason you are racing.

Look around you and focus in on the target you have set. Remember your pace, split times and don’t rely on your GPS…they often fail with so many signals in the same area. Have your splits per mile written on your hand, arm in permanent ink or on a wristband.

Sip your final mouthfuls of water/sports drink but don’t take on more than normal, you don’t need it.

Perhaps have an old tracksuit on to stay warm; any discarded clothing at the Start will be collected by charities. In the final minutes take these off, having kept warm and dry.

As the gun goes however, count to 10 and slow down if on a faster start…. you really need to ease into your race day pace in the first few kilometres rather than running too quickly. Those of you on the mass slower starts should use the walk to the start line after the gun has gone and the early crowded miles as your perfect warm up. You have 26 miles ahead of you and lots of time to gradually catch up on that pace.

Your race strategy

Run at the pace you have practiced. After building into the pace you should then look to lock into the kilometre or mile splits that became familiar to you in the marathon pace sessions and longer runs.

Definitely don’t try to bank faster miles and get ahead of the schedule. This is a sure way to guarantee hitting the wall in the final third of the race, and you are using up those carbohydrate stores too quickly.

Perhaps try running a touch under your marathon pace in the first 10k, then your planned pace for the middle 20k, and then throw the kitchen sink at it gradually over the last 12k.

We recommend you take on gels every 30 mins on race day and you should have practiced this on some long training runs. Take your first gel at 30-45 minutes and then every 30 minutes for the rest of the race. Also sip on sports drink and/or water occasionally in the race. You don’t need too much and be sure to not take on too many fluids on the way round.

My top tip is ‘watch the pinch points stay calm’. In the Brighton Marathon you will feel like the Olympic Marathon champion as you pass along the Seafront with all of the crowds. Before you know it your pace has picked up and you are running too fast! Feel great and let the hairs on the back of your neck do their thing but slow down and stay calm. Keep your ego in a box and save it, as the real marathon doesn’t start until you reach 20 miles!!

Yep that’s right, that’s when the real fun and challenge begins. If you have trained well, tapered smartly, run at a race pace you have practiced, and taken your gels and drinks early on you can attacked the final 6 miles making it home tired but with style. Get any of these key elements wrong and it’s the hardest 6 miles of your life.

That’s why the marathon must be respected.

Good luck everybody….

Nick Anderson is the Official Coach for Brighton Marathon Weekend

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