Our Top Tips to Tackle the Final Stages of Marathon Training

October 2, 2019 (Dubai, UAE)

So here we are- just 3 weeks until the marathon day! Are you having doubts if you have trained enough? Do you think you should squeeze in more runs right before the race? Feeling anxious that there are just three weeks to the marathon?

Don’t worry, we have got you covered with tips on what you should be doing in the last 3 weeks before the big day!
Everyone is training hard and following routines with a goal to make it to the finish line within an estimated time.

It might be very tempting to go the extra mile or make up for a missed run or add in a speed test to check your timing. However, doing either of these could be detrimental and could negatively affect your performance on the day. Sometimes less is more, and now is just the time to follow this mantra!

Here are some tips you can follow if you want to reap in all the rewards of your consistent efforts on the marathon day.

1. Go big or go home

The first thing you want to start doing is completing your longest distance run within the time you want to finish the marathon on the day.

For example, if you are taking up the 21km challenge, push yourself and go further than this distance within your goal time. This is done right before a tapering routine (more on this in the next point!) and this should ideally be your highest mileage run until then. Doing this acts as a stimulus to store more glycogen in your legs and improve the oxygen-carrying potential of your blood vessels.

2. Start your Marathon taper!

Now that the longest run is over, it is now time to taper down.  This refers to a gradual decline in training intensity and mileage before the event which gives the athlete time to rest, recover and reach their peak performance during the marathon. If you have been following a training plan for the marathon, you might have seen this pattern in terms of the suggested workouts, and for a good reason too!

 – Research

Scientific research has shown that tapering down three weeks or at least 21 days before the marathon can help the athlete increase their performance by three to five per cent on the race day. Some runners look forward to the tapering period whereas, on the other hand, some just despise the idea of it.

 – The complicated bit

It is an extremely common misconception that cutting down the workout routine would reduce stamina, lead to last minute increase in weight, harm endurance, and negatively affect one’s performance on the day of the race/competition/marathon. But it is actually quite the opposite!

Tapering allows metabolic enzymes, antioxidants, and various hormones which were depleted during training to return to their optimal ranges. This helps in strengthening muscles and connective tissue repairs (if any), resulting in improving the runner’s immune system, ultimately improving their performance during the race.

 – What to do

The basic idea is to reduce your peak mileage by an approximately set 20-30 percentage each week. For example, the first week of taper (ideally three weeks before the marathon), your mileage can be reduced by 30% of your weekly training mileage. The following week, by 50% and finally the last week by 70%, ensuring that you still train every week, just not rigorously!

To eat or not to eat?

The answer is definitely EAT! One of the important part of the marathon process is to eat right, and stock up on the correct amount and type of nutrients. Sport nutritionists recommend a right balance of protein, fat, carb and vitamin intake in the tapering phase to aid in the repair and recovery of damaged muscle tissues and give energy to the runners.

 – What should I be eating?

Ideally, you should be filling up on 75 to 100 grams of protein per day through various sources like chicken, fish, eggs, beans, dairy, soy products, etc. A reasonable proportion of 30% of daily calorie intake of dietary fat (nuts, avocados, chia seeds) along with a decent intake of vitamin C (orange juice, kiwis, broccoli, strawberries) is beneficial to increase energy levels and strengthen your immune defenses respectively.

 – Carbs

Consistently loading up on the right amount of carbs is extremely important as they help increase glycogen which is the fuel required to provide you with the maximum energy for the big day. That being said, binging on a huge bowl of pasta or potatoes the night before is not going to help!

Get some ZZZ’s

Last but definitely not the least, maintain a consistent relationship with your bed and blanket and follow a sleep pattern. Try going to bed and waking up at relatively similar timings everyday (even on weekends!) so your body clock gets adjusted to this. Proper sleep plays a significant role in recovery during your training and impacts your psychological state of mind as well right before the marathon. Aim to get 6-8 hours of sleep each night in the weeks leading up to the race during the tapering phase.

Final thought

Since each individual is different, find a routine and follow whichever is best suited for you.

Now that you are all set with these tips keep your head cool and just visualize yourself at the end of it all, running to the finish line and completing the marathon as a champion!

See you at the Mai Dubai City Half Marathon.