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Five days to go! 8 tips to follow ahead of this weekend's Dublin City Marathon

All the hard work is done, but the nerves are starting to kick in. That’s all normal, writes personal trainer David Last.

THE 2017 DUBLIN MARATHON takes place this Sunday 29 October.

With a change of day from the traditional Bank Holiday Monday slot, this year’s edition will be the biggest yet with the 20,000 entries selling out as early as June. It is now the fifth largest in Europe behind the likes of London, Berlin and Paris.

A view of the Dublin Marathon as runners make there way down Fitzwilliam Street Upper Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

With less than a week to go, I am sure you have completed your training for the big day and have all the miles clocked and broken in the runners.

In this week’s column, I am going to focus on the marathon and share some of the advice I’ve picked up from clients who have completed marathons and numerous endurance events around the world.

Lead up advice

The days leading up to the main event are important. Making your marathon debut can be a daunting task and I know the days beforehand is when you might be questioning yourself. The doubts begin to reverberate. Am I ready? How’s the body feeling? Should I be carb loading? How much water should I be drinking? Should I run much this week?

At this final stage for most people the excitement is building, the nerves are starting to becoming a little more real and generally speaking all you want to do now is to get to that start line and run.

Are you ready?

Yes you are!

You have prepared well for this and have paced yourself nicely for the lead up to the big day. You have done the long Sunday runs, the recovery and interval sessions and the tapering down. You are well equipped at this stage and ready to roll.

How does the body feel? Should you make any adjustments?

shutterstock_279056990 Source: Shutterstock/Halfpoint

At this stage you more than likely have picked up a few niggles along the way — that’s normal and really is all part of marathon training. My advice for the final lead up is to listen to the body and make the right choices with your training, nutrition and preparation.

The final week is certainly not the week to cram in long distance runs or to even make too many changes.

My advice would be to get out for one or two light runs, ideally on Wednesday and Friday, and I would aim to rest the other days while doing some light stretching.

As for your nutrition, now is not the time to start trying new things with your food. Go with what your body knows and what has worked the last few months. It’s good to increase your calories slightly before race day, however you don’t need to get too carried away on carbohydrate loading or cycling.

Yes, carb loading is important, but sometimes taking on too many carbs can lead to people feeling bloated on race day.

Staying hydrated is going to be crucial. Make sure you are well hydrated and topped up with water and some other fluids. Anytime I do go out for long endurance events I will always have enough water the days before along with having access to drinks such as a Lucozade or even a dioralyte to keep my body in check.

However, there is no need to drink four litres the day before and another two litres the morning of the race. This will only lead to you feeling bloated and perhaps won’t agree with your body. The goal for you is to keep it simple, consistent and topped up!

Make a list, visualise the course and do a dry run

Making out a list will keep everything in check along with keeping you focused and organised. The last thing you want to happen is to travel into the city centre to realise you’ve left your running shoes at home. List down everything that you need: your race number, training gear, along with all the other smaller bits and bobs like your training gels, spare socks or even some vaseline that might come in handy on the day.

With regards to your race day attire, stick to what has been tried and trusted over the course of your training months. Get a map of the course and visualise parts of the run or even in the final days before the marathon, do a two or three-miler in your marathon day gear if you can.

Getting to grips with parts of the course is crucial and it’s good to have an idea of what the course layout is like. It might just be good to know where certain stations are located.

Besides boosting your confidence, this run will provide one last little bit of conditioning and will help you lock in to race pace on marathon day.

The race itself

A view of the Dublin Marathon as runners make there way down Fitzwilliam Street Upper Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

My advice here is keep it simple and go with the plan you set out with: your morning feed, your timetable, your warm up and race pace. The morning itself will be filled with lots of emotions and distractions. Now is time to stay relaxed and focused but still enjoy it at the same time.

Stick to the plan and pace yourself

Give yourself plenty of time to find the right wave and start time on the day. Stick to the same warm up that has worked for you in the past. Now is not the time to change it up going with a group-led warm up performing movements that you really haven’t done before.

Keep it simple and go through the motions of everything you have been doing to the build up for this big day.

As soon as you’re off my advice here is to pace yourself. At any event I have taken part in I always see waves of people getting carried away going all out at the blocks. If you are doing a marathon distance you will know all about it at mile 15 if you do start too quick. My advice here is to stay calm and stick to your pace that you have planned for. If you start off too quick, you are going to struggle a lot more.

Soak it all up (as much as you can)

A competitor finishes the Dublin Marathon Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

As I said, the day itself is full of emotions and excitement. There will be times you are going to feel great and times you will want the ground to swallow you up. You have been training hard for this day so go and enjoy it.

Keep the head down when you have to grind it out but then sometimes when you have a wave of adrenaline and start to feel a little comfortable look up say hello and give that push to the others who also are taking part.

The support on the day itself is great so make sure to give back energy to them when you can — say hello, thank them and even cheer back to the other people who make this event just as special. Everybody from the public support, the aid stations, marshals and the volunteers are all important people who also make this event a great success.

Post marathon

Runners share a joke during the Dublin Marathon Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

It’s a great feeling. Crossing that finish line is something perhaps you never thought you would experience throughout parts of the race. Your body will be sore and more than likely you are going to be feeling like you hit a wall at some point. It’s all part of race day. Get that finish line photo with your medal and go enjoy the celebrations.

Don’t get me wrong, your body goes through a hell of a lot over the course of the day so it is very important to recover the right way. The hours and days after will be important for you to fuel your body with plenty of food and fluids.

As for recovery, my advice is to gradually do some light recovery drills such as a dip in the sea, a massage, a stretching session, or even a cool down walk/jog. This will make everything that bit easier when it comes to getting back into training after a short break.

Most of all enjoy the day, have a laugh, and don’t take it too seriously.

Let me take this opportunity to wish you the very best of luck on the big day and I hope all this advice has set you up the right way for the main event.

Thanks for taking the time to read this article and if you feel it can help you or a friend feel free to tag, share or send it to someone you know who is doing the Dublin Marathon this year.

Good luck everybody!

David Last is a personal trainer based in Dublin. For more information you can follow him on FacebookInstagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.

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