Heidi Klum on a run
Laura Fountain is a personal trainer and running group leader who has completed 11 marathons. You can find her blogging at lazygirlrunning.com
1) Taper off your training
"The last two weeks of your training plan are all about allowing your body to recover from the big training miles you've put in so that it's ready for race day. You should gradually reduce your mileage, so while you will still be doing the same amount of runs a week, the mileage and intensity of these runs will be lower. A lot of runners feel a bit anxious during this taper period that thy should be running more and that they're losing fitness - don't panic. Come race day your legs will feel fresh and rested, and you'll be glad you didn't try to sneak in a few extra miles when you should have had your feet up."
2) Swap long runs for yoga or swimming
"Yoga is good for helping improve core strength and flexibility. Swimming is another great one for keeping active during the taper and the recovery period without putting too much stress on your legs. Go gently in these last few weeks though, trying something new could mean muscle soreness which isn't going to help with your race."
3) Carb load gradually
"Instead of one big bowl of pasta the night before the race, I like to include more carbs in my diet throughout the two days before through snacking. My three main meals stay pretty much the same, but I'll eat a few more snacks in between such as fruit, flapjack or a packet of crisps. This means that my dinner the night before a marathon is a normal size and I don't go to bed with a full belly which is going to keep me up half the night feeling bloated. Save that sort of excess for after the race."
4) Cut down on caffeine (but don't glug back the water)
"Caffeine dehydrates you and can interrupt your sleep so you don't feel rested enough. I only drink half a pint of water on the morning of my marathons and I don't drink anything within an hour of the start so I don't need the loo in the first few miles. Once the race is underway, I drink according to whether I feel thirsty or not and will only have a few sips at a time. These's a bigger danger from over-drinking in a marathon than under-drinking so don't feel the need to chug loads of water during the race."
Amanda Brooks is a running coach, 8 time marathon finisher and author of the popular running blog RunToTheFinish.com
1) Don't binge eat
"Stick to a normal healthy diet of whole foods and then the day or two before the race start to cut back on high fiber foods (broccoli, apples). The night before the race skip the big pasta party unless that's what you have been eating before every long run; instead eat exactly what you ate before your last 20 miler, yes even if it was pizza!
2) Don't just drink water
"You need to add electrolytes to ensure you are not washing out all your minerals. I carry around a water bottle and have at least one serving of Vega Electrolyte mix daily the week of the race."
3) Look after your back
"A chiropractor can be the best friend of long distance runners. Our bodies take a pounding and by keeping them in alignment we ward off a lot of injuries, so this is always a good time for an adjustment. If you have been getting a regular massage then a few days after your 20 miler is a great time to go, otherwise save it for a few days after the race."
4) Stay off your feet
"The day before the race often involves walking around the expo and potentially exploring a new city! You want to enjoy both of these things, but the less time you spend on your feet the better. Try to attend the expo a few days in advance if possible and the day before the race enjoy a short 2 mile run followed by lots of time with your feet up relaxing and preparing to have a great race."
Ka Man Parkinson has run four marathons and is author of the blog ploddingalongnicely.com
1) Don't stop running entirely in the final two weeks
"Some runners think because they’ve done their longest run, they can sit back and relax for a fortnight (I can be guilty of this!) and eat all the foods! This isn’t a sensible approach, it’s important to keep things ticking over so that you’re both physically and psychologically prepared to tackle 26.2 miles. Depending on your training regime, your last long run should be around 8-10 miles a week before marathon day. In the week immediately before the marathon, you should just be doing short and easy runs – you don’t want to be putting any undue strain on your body and risking injury."
2) Be careful with your carb loading
"It’s important to eat lots of carbohydrate-rich foods to build up glycogen (energy) stores in your muscles, but wholegrain foods are better than refined, white foods so choose wholemeal pasta, bread and brown rice. Eat this alongside healthy sources of protein (e.g. lean chicken and fish), lots of fresh fruit and veg."
3) Don't panic train!
"Some runners don’t enjoy the taper period as they are used to running, and feel listless or irritable due to the decrease in exercise. Also, pre-race anxiety and paranoia can start to kick in, and some runners maintain their pre-taper level of training out of fear of losing their fitness. However, it’s essential that we cut down in training volume to ensure our bodies can recover from months of training."