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Sunday, April 23, 2006

A few final tips for running a marathon

With the Rotorua Marathon just a few days away, here are some last minute tips for all of you who have been following my training guidelines, either on the Rotorua Marathon website, or via the FreeRangers website:
  • Run tall - Even the best of marathon runners tend to lose form as fatigue sets in. The most common faults are collapsing of the arches of the feet and buckling of the knees. This progressive buckling is demonstrated by the world class runner in this picture that I took at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. As the tiring runner gets lower and lower, the muscles and joints are placed under enormous pressure. Post-race injuries to the knees and feet have the physio clinics working overtime. The best thing you can do at this late stage of preparation is to concentrate on running tall. When you are running the marathon and fatigue is setting in, remind yourself to keep tall. This includes sticking your chest out, pulling you tummy in and looking ahead, rather than down at your feet and be conscious of not allowing the knees to buckle. Do this and you will spare your legs that little bit of extra pressure. This might make the difference between success and failure - and injury.
  • Run light- Be light. That means discarding everything before the race, including clothing and accessories, that are not absolutely necessary. One liter of water weighs 1 kilogram! If you raise and lower that 1kg weight 5-10cm with each stride, not including hills, that is a lot of kilograms you are lifting over 20,000+ steps! Runnning a marathon is hard enough work without doing extra weight lifting along the way! My advice is to make liberal use of the drinks stations that are dotted along the way and not carry water. Light shoes are essential; however it is too late to do anything about these, if you haven't already - this time.
  • Dose up on vitamins and anti-oxidants - Like it or not, you are going to be doing a lot of damage to your body. Your first defence is having full body stores of vitamins and anti-oxidants that soak up and neutralise free radicals before they can do damage to healthy tissues. So, for the last few days, including the morning of the race, take additional nutrients. Nutra-Life Sports Multi is my favourite because it covers most bases in a single tablet. I also like the effervescent Red Seal products as a cheap and refreshing source of Vitamin C and other nutrients. Athletes who have tried this strategy, report less muscle soreness and quicker recovery following punishing exercise.
  • Hold back at the beginning - 90% of marathon runners make the mistake of going out too fast over the first 1/3 of the race and they pay the penalty by hitting the wall prematurly, losing huge amounts of time and hurting terribly. Hold back, save your energy for later and drink early. Even if you feel great and even if Granny has just whizzed past you, followed by the big guy in the long rugby socks! You will pass them later. If you manage to run the 2nd half slightly faster than the first, then you have run the perfect marathon
  • Enjoy the view and the occasion - No comment necessary.
I will be there on the day, on my MT bike, watching and encouraging you all as you make your way around the lake. I will be catching up with as many of you as I can after the race.

I wish you all the best on the day.


Anonymous said...

Thanks Gary. Your tips and interest have been of huge value to us leading up to the big day this Saturday. Looking forward to hopefully catching up after the race


Wayne said...

Great advice.
Personally I avoid taking B vitamins on the actual morning of a big run, they have a diuretic effect. so race day probably aint the best time to triple dose on B's for performance!

Gary Moller said...

Yep, fair comment Wayne. Personally, I have not had any problems with this on race day, or any other time. I guess the lesson in this is to practice in training, do nothing radical on race day and "all things in moderation". Moderation applies to so many things: Large doses of Vit C have quite a laxative effect, as will magnesium. So, while these may be beneficial for sports performance, including recovery, overdoing a good thing may have unexpected consequences on the big day!