The London Marathon is only a few weeks away, and I’m sure the butterflies are building. By now, you’ve probably done your fair share of long runs, pace runs, and everything in-between! Now, with little more than a couple of months before race day, every run is important.
That doesn’t necessarily mean long runs, however. By now, you should be gearing yourself up for tapering your runs. That means cutting them down. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Do 4-5 more long runs
Before you cut down your runs, you should get in a few more long runs during weeks 8-4. This is important because it stimulates your body to store more glycogen (which helps fuel your muscles during exercise) and improves your blood vessels’ ability to carry oxygen around your body. In other words, it physically preps your body for Marathon day by upping your glycogen stores and supercharging your blood vessels.
It also prepares your muscles and connective tissue for the pounding that they’re going to get on race day. Because of this, it’s worth doing your runs on the road because the London Marathon (surprise surprise!) takes place across the city. So, in your final eight weeks, do 4-5 more long runs. Ideally with two of them over 20 miles. Do your last one 3-4 weeks before Marathon day to give your body time to recover before the big event.
Ignore the gremlins
That’s usually the hardest. When cutting down your runs, usually the gremlins will creep in. You’ll wonder if you’ve done enough training, if that Christmas break put your progress back and if you should squeeze in just one more 20 miler. Don’t. Trust your training – you’ve been working for months to get to this point. Rest, eat the right food and let your body build its strength back.
Keep up with other training
During your final 2 months, you should keep up with other training such as intervals, active recovery and cross-training with strength and functional exercises. Intervals will improve your heart’s ability to pump blood around your body and your lungs’ capacity to breath in oxygen. Strength and functional training will help prevent injury as you make your way around the 26.2 mile course.
Test your Marathon kit
This is a good time to also test out your race day gear. You don’t want to be wearing brands new trainers on the day, but they also shouldn’t be on their last legs (no pun intended!). If they are, get yourself a new pair now and break them in with short distance runs and long walks. Also, test your race day snacks. You don’t want to discover on Marathon day that sports energy gels don’t agree with you.
Conversely, whilst we’re on the subject of equipment if you’re running outside this time of year in the dark, make sure you’ve got safety gear on so vehicles and other people can see you. Consider running with someone else when it’s very dark (and make sure you’ve both got reflective kit!).
Got a buddy? Discuss your race day plan
If you’re running the Marathon with a friend, make sure you’ve spoken about how the day will pan out. Make sure you do a few long runs with your buddy to see how well you match pace and work out details like music or no-music when running. You’ll also be able to tell if your mate is a talker or goes into stony silence after mile 17. Be honest with each other about how you want to run together – if one of you can’t keep up, does the other go ahead? If you suddenly need the loo will your friend wait for you?
Get ready… it’s nearly here
This is an exciting time for you as your hard work begins to pay off. Anticipation is surely building by now, but don’t be tempted to go full throttle and tire yourself out before race day. Now it’s about getting the details right and building your strength up for Marathon day. That way, come the 28th April you’ll be ready and raring to go.