A Marathon, 42.2km of pavement bashing that left many of us sore in the legs and not appreciating the existence of stairs. The 40th edition of the Gold Coast Marathon Festival has come and gone, with many runners of all abilities participating over the weekend. Running a Marathon is not just about the long preparation you have done to get your body conditioned for the race, but how you approach it psychologically. I generally don’t talk about myself in this fashion, but I thought many runners would find themselves in similar situations to me preparing for their marathon. Training for this marathon was not all smooth sailing, with a move to Melbourne from Sydney coming in late April early May, my consistency and quality of training took a tumble trying to get used to a new environment, while also trying to acclimatise to this artic weather!
Training plans often don’t go completely to plan. Illness, work and injuries are all factors that can derail a preparation, and these things can often come up at the worst times, and can drastically change a runner’s plan for the race. How you deal with these changes and the plans you set in place can go along way to making your race, no matter the situation, an enjoyable one.
Below are some pointers that I found extremely beneficial in helping me get to the finish line. Every runner will have a different strategy in how they approach a race, so my advice before I give you my advice, is to find what works with you through trialling different things with an experienced coach…..remembering that you are going to be out there running the marathon so expert advice is key.
- Understanding the course – Some courses, such as the Gold Coast are an “out & back” loop, which you run down to a turn around point and run back. This course in particular can be a mental challenge as you pass the finish line, run to another turn around marker then run back. Performing training runs where you run away, towards then away again from your starting point can help train yourself to become familiar to the race specific situation.
- Pacing – Extremely important. You will hear people talk about the start being at “32km”. Most training plans will have runners run to atleast a 32km long run during their build up. Understanding your pacing ability to help get you to the 32km mark, in the best possible shape, will hold you in good stead for that final 10km.
- Breaking the race up – Compartmentalising the race into smaller components can be a clever way of tricking the mind into ticking off small objectives throughout the race.
- Sticking too your nutrition plan – This is super important, especially when the weather on race day doesn’t make you feel the need to drink or eat something. Sticking to your plan ,that is well tried and tested during training, will go a long way in helping you in the final km’s.
- My final one and probably the most important……ENJOY IT!! – Whether it’s the only one you will do or your 10th one, soak up the atmosphere, chat to your fellow competitors and smile for the camera. The atmosphere on the Gold Coast was awesome, with people lining the streets cheering runners on and music being played, it helps take your mind of the race and enjoy the spectacle……which is why the Gold Coast is my recommendation for anyone looking at doing a marathon (its flat too which also helps).
Hopefully some of these tips can help assist you in your preparation. As previously stated, everyone is individual and should take the right approach for them, but hopefully these ideas have started to get you thinking about how to approach it from a psychological point of view. Now onto the next marathon for me.
From Exercise Physiologist & Performance Coach Adam Luther