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The London Marathon returns on October 2 and runners across the country will step up their training in preparation for the big day.
It is expected that 50,000 runners and a further thousand spectators will descend on the streets of the British capital along the 42 miles separating the starting point from Blackheath to the final stretch of The Mall, in front of Buckingham Palace.
Experienced joggers will have perfected their diet and exercise regimen to deliver the best performance, but if you’re new to the game, have no fear: FEMAIL has you covered.
With the help of fitness experts, we’ve put together the ultimate marathon training guide, based on which training hacks will help you run longer and the best snacks to turn to when preparing for the run.
Here, the experts also reveal what to eat that day and what to never do before a marathon – from going to the pub to running with a friend…
50,000 runners and a further 1,000 spectators are expected to descend on the streets of London for the marathon on October 2. Runners should monitor their hydration levels and eat snacks during their run (stock photo)
Before the race
The week before a marathon, make sure you eat plenty of carbohydrates for energy, and that your body is full of glycogen, a substance in your skin tissue that stores carbohydrates and energy.
“How you run and recover is heavily influenced by your nutritional strategy,” Lifesum’s nutritionist Signe Svanfeldt told FEMAIL. ‘Food provides carbohydrates for quickly released energy, proteins for vital maintenance and muscle nutrition and fat as an energy source.’
On marathon day, Svanfeldt advised runners to eat “at least two hours before the race a larger breakfast rich in energy, carbohydrates, protein and fat, for example oatmeal with banana, peanut butter and Greek yogurt or scrambled eggs on toast and banana berry smoothie.” .’
Closer to the race, smaller, easily digestible snacks should be consumed.
“These should be rich in protein to feed muscles and carbohydrates for quick-release energy, for example banana pancakes or a smoothie with low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit.”
“Avoid large meals near the race, as this can lead to digestive problems and abdominal pain,” explains Svanfeldt.
During the race
So what’s the best food to eat during a marathon? Snacks can provide a much-needed energy boost during the race. You should pack energy bars or bananas to store more carbohydrates while running.
Svanfeldt emphasized the importance of maintaining blood sugar levels by eating carbohydrates and replacing fluids.
“Simple carbohydrates, such as a banana, a sports drink or a sports gel, should be consumed because they are easily digestible and quickly release glucose (energy) into the bloodstream,” Svanfeldt added.
If you’re thirsty, specialized energy gels can also do the job. You can also use isotonic drinks or sports drinks.
However, you should stay away from sodas, juices and liqueurs as they are high in sugar and can cause stomach pains during the race.
What you eat after a race is just as important as the food you eat before.
Hydration is key to recovering from a race, and you should turn to isotonic drinks, which contain a concentration of salt and sugar close to the human body.
It is best not to drink alcohol in the 24 hours after the race, as alcohol can cause dehydration.
A good nutritional strategy shouldn’t end at the finish line, and Svanfeldt recommended the best foods to eat after your run for recovery.
‘Once the race is over, replace lost fluids and eat easily digestible carbohydrates, such as a banana or rice cracker, and replenish both glycogen and proteins, such as a boiled egg or tofu, to nourish muscles and prevent muscle soreness. to break down.’
Coming up with a training plan
To prepare properly, it’s best to plan ahead and start training 16 to 20 weeks before the marathon so you have time to increase the length of your runs (stock photo)
The workout depends on how much experienced runner you are, but whether you run every day or every February 29th, it’s best to plan ahead.
The London Marathon is 26.2 miles long and requires a lot of stamina and mental strength to complete.
Most training plans out there last 16 to 20 weeks so runners can gradually increase the distance they run each time without being too hard on their bodies.
According to Runner’s WorldRacers typically train three to five times a week so they can run for longer periods of time leading up to the marathon.
But the specialist publication also recommends doing some cross training on the non-running days to build up your other strengths and rest your legs.
Depending on their experience, some runners may train with a target time in mind, while beginners should only focus on the finish regardless of the time it takes.
However, all training plans ask the runner to run at different speeds to keep the body engaged and avoid burning out in the run-up to the big day — or on the marathon day itself.
If you’re wondering how fast or slow to run, there are online race pace calculators available to help you figure it out. They take into account the stats from some of your last runs.
Training will get harder and harder as you try to stretch the distance and time you cover, but you have to listen to your body while you train
What to do if you miss part of the training?
Some runners may skip some of their scheduled training sessions due to illness or emergencies.
If you’ve missed up to three weeks of training, you can still come back and have time to do some longer runs, which are essential when preparing for the marathon.
However, if you’ve missed more than four weeks of training, it may be best to postpone your marathon as you won’t have time to make up for lost time.
What to do if you get a marathon spot at the last minute?
Runner’s World recommends doing a double workout of both running and walking if you’re joining at the last minute.
You should also not run with a time in mind as it may be hard enough to complete the feat without time constraints. They added that alternating brisk walking and running may do less damage to your body.
These tried-and-true tips will help you deal with the unexpected things that can happen before, during, and after the marathon.
Don’t try to stay with your friends
Don’t run with a friend and go at your own pace. They can mess up your rhythm or make the tempo more uncomfortable for you (stock photo)
Jess Hillard, nutritionist for leading sports nutrition brand Warrior, said, “Unless you’ve been training with your friends and running at the exact same pace, I don’t recommend trying to stick with them during the marathon.
“Starting with them is great because you can motivate each other and it’s a nice way to calm your nerves before the race starts, but once the buzzer goes off you have to focus on yourself and your run.
“Trying to stay with your friends all the way can really affect your race as they can run faster or slower. Remember, this is your marathon, no one else’s.
Drinking a banana smoothie before a race
According to Runner’s Goal drinking a banana smoothie before the race can help prevent cramps.
This is because cramps can be caused by dehydration and low potassium. Bananas are rich in the latter, so they’ll give you the boost you need to finish off, and the smoothie’s liquid element helps replenish your hydration levels, too.
Focus on a distant object to run faster
If your goal is to complete the marathon in a certain amount of time, focusing on a particular point, such as a tree or sign, may help you achieve that goal.
According to The Atlantic, this trick, called “attention narrowing,” can make distances seem shorter, which will help you out faster.
Make sure your shoes have been worn in
Professor Paul Lee, Sports and Orthopedic Surgeon, London Cartilage Clinic said: ‘It is vital that you first check that you are wearing good quality, supportive running shoes that fit and have been worn properly.’
You may want to avoid equipping yourself with a watch as this will only put more strain on your marathon experience (stock photo)
Throw away your running watch
Sports training expert Jess added: “There are several reasons why you should give up your running watch, namely that they make you focus too much on pace instead of enjoying it.
“Especially if this is your first marathon, allow yourself to enjoy it instead of looking at your watch all the time. Instead, use the pacers in the race and enjoy the atmosphere!’
Practice being in the zone
Kunal Makwana, Personal Trainer and owner of KMAK Fitness told FEMAIL: “From a physical point of view, consider any gnawing injuries you may have suffered before and be prepared not to aggravate them if possible.
“You also need to be mentally prepared to get through the marathon, so practice being ‘in the zone’ and blocking out all other thoughts about what’s going on in your life while you’re training. ‘
Morgan Mitchell, Olympic Runner and F45 Training Ambassador, added that ‘being in the moment’ is ‘so important’.
“I focus on my race when it’s time to focus on it, stressing about race plans and preparations earlier than expected just wastes time and energy,” Morgan added.
Breathing exercises are great and can help a lot with this. Also, listen to and trust your coach, and stick to the plan accordingly. They are always behind you.”
Go for an ice bath to boost marathon recovery
A personal trainer for KYMIRA, the technology brand specializing in infrared performance apparel, told FEMAIL that runners should take an ice bath to boost marathon recovery.
They said: ‘This is incredibly popular with both elite and amateur athletes as it is believed to reduce inflammation and relieve pain.
“There is mounting evidence showing how it can help after a big endurance race. Then take a nap and it will further aid recovery.’