The fifth Chester Marathon is less than a week away.
The MBNA Chester Marathon and brand new 26.2km (16.3 mile) Metric Marathon will start and finish at the Chester Racecourse on Sunday, October 5. The day will see more than 4,000 people running for a variety of reasons, from those striving to achieve a personal or charity challenge, to elite athletes aiming for a new course record.
For many people, taking on a marathon is a gruelling task whether they are first timers or more experienced long distance runners. Organisers have teamed up with Jen Lloyd, owner of Anatomy Chester to offer some last minute training tips and advice on race day preparation for runners.
Mental Preparation: The mental preparation must start as soon as possible; break the course down into segments, completing each phase in your mind - doing 4 x 6.5 mile runs is a lot easier for the mind to cope with than one 26 mile run. It helps to create a plan where you can work out each segment, outlining your pace and when to take your nutrition. It may take some thought but you’ll be glad on race day.
Break in new trainers: If you’ve been thinking of getting a shiny new pair of trainers ready for race day then do so quickly because you need to have been running in them for an absolute minimum of three weeks. If you don’t break new trainers in they can cause all manner of blisters, niggles and even injuries. Our advice is to stick with the trainers that you have and treat yourself to a post marathon treat with a nice new pair.
Pre-race training: With less than weeks to go until race day you will have completed a few long runs and will be comfortable with the time that you are aiming for. It is around now that you should focus on a pre-race training regime. It is no longer seen necessary to get in as many miles as you can before race day because you will give yourself an injury.
Stretch, Roller, Stretch: The best way to avoid injuries popping up before and on race day is to stretch, stretch, stretch! Spend at least an half an hour or so a day stretching out your muscles, mixing up post work out stretches and dynamic stretches to increase flexibility and strengthen your muscles. Use a foam roller to roll out any niggles or tight knots and if you have any concerns then please go and see a sports physiotherapist who can show you the right stretches to do to solve whatever problems that you are having.
Get a massage: By massage, we don’t mean a lovely relaxing afternoon in a spa. We mean get proper sports massages from a physiotherapist. They are a great idea to have throughout your training both before and after the event. However, if you have never had a sports massage before it will leave you feeling sore and is therefore not recommended two days before a marathon. Sports massages should be timed at 4 weeks to go, 2 weeks to go and then three days to go. Then after the marathon, we recommend having a further massage within a couple of days to help you walk again.
Pre-race nutrition: Leading up to the race, try and eat low GI foods such as such as porridge, pasta and other non-sugary foods. If you are following a training regime where you start to reduce your time running remember to do the same with your food. Start making smaller portions and remember to eat plenty of protein to help your body recover.
Race day nutrition: It is very difficult to advise on nutrition because everyone is different; some people take salt tablets, some eat gels, some eat peanut butter covered bananas. You just have to find what works for you and practice running with it otherwise it won’t work properly and your body may reject certain products. Lucozade is the sports nutrition provider for the MBNA Chester Marathon this year - bottles of Lucozade Sport Orange Drink and Lucozade Sport Elite Citrus Gels will be available right around the course. They are available from most sports shops so give them a try alongside your training if you intend on making the most of them on race day. Afterwards, eat anything that you can keep down and make sure you celebrate with your favourite food or drink that night.
Kit check: The weather in this country can be so unpredictable so make sure that you have the running kit to reflect that. Make sure you have a good quality waterproof lightweight jacket that you can take on and off easily for the rainy weather. Other useful accessories that you should consider wearing are; a headband to protect your ears from chilly wind, a hydration bladder and a mini first aid kit.
Post race: In the lead up to race day, all you think about is the race but when you’re packing your bag don’t forget to think about after the race. Pack a change of warm clothes including a nice brand new pair of socks (heaven) and remember to pack yourself a couple of post race treats containing lots of protein with replenishing vitamins to help your body recover and aim to eat within 20 minutes of finishing.
One of the most important pieces of advice that we can give you is always begin a run believing that you can do it otherwise you’re bound to struggle. Have a post race treat in mind whether it be a lovely batch of freshly made cupcakes waiting for you or the thought of getting a nice shiny medal to add to your collection, focus on it and you’ll get to the end.
The MBNA Chester Marathon route offers a fast, predominantly flat course through the historic City of Chester and the striking Cheshire countryside. It crosses into parts of North Wales, making it the UK’s only international marathon.
This year, organisers have also introduced a brand new event to the Sunday, October 5 race in the form of the MBNA Chester Metric Marathon. The metric marathon will give runners the chance to complete a shorter distance race as an alternative to the standard marathon distance of 26.2 miles, but it will start and finish at the Chester Racecourse, providing the same race day experience.
Entries for both events are still open, but they are due to close on Tuesday, September 30. Runners can secure their entries for either event at www.chestermarathon.co.uk.