October 25, 2018


The last-minute advice you need for Sunday's Dublin Marathon

THE DUBLIN MARATHON takes place this Sunday, as a record 20,000 participants take to the capital’s streets for the 39th edition of the event, with the swelling numbers a reflection of the growth in marathon running as a mass participation sport.

In this week’s column, I’m going to offer you some last-minute advice for before, during and after the marathon, with many of my clients having completed similar events all over the world down through the years

For many of us, the final few days can be the most daunting, particularly if you’re a first-timer, as all of the preparation comes to a head and the pre-race nerves come into play.

It’s perfectly normal to feel nervous at this stage, but just remember to stick to the process and trust the training you have done.

Final preparation

My best advice for the next few days is to stick to what you know best. Listen to your body and make the right choices with your training and nutrition.

Obviously it’s not the time to be cramming in miles or long runs, because tapering is key at this juncture with a focus instead on recovery and light sessions. The aim for the final week is to get one or two light runs in while the other days should be spent doing some light stretching and mobility work.

As for your nutrition and hydration, it’s important to stick to what you know and have done to this point. If it has worked well for you during those training months, this is certainly not the time to try new things.

You are also likely to hear about the need to carb loading this week, but don’t be forced into making drastic changes. It’s good to increase your calorie intake slightly in the days before the race, but don’t get too carried away.

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

Staying hydrated is going to be crucial. Make sure you are well hydrated and topped up with water throughout this week and on the day itself. However, there is no need to drink four litres the day before and another four litres the morning of the race. This will only lead to you feeling bloated and won’t agree with your body. The goal for you is to keep it simple with what the body already knows best.

What works best for me in race week is being prepared.

As they say failure to prepare results in preparing for failure so the best approach here is to get yourself ready the right way. Make out a list and this will help you stay on top and in control of things. It also keeps you focused.

List down everything that you need to know; time of arrival at event, 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.

Another really important point is your race day attire. I have seen so many people over the years make last minute changes by buying new running gear or trainers for the day of the event.

My best advice here is stick to what has been tried and trusted over the course of your training months. Wear the gear your body is well used to at this stage and go with that.

If you are a total newbie to this course or if this is your first marathon then get a map of the course and visualise parts of the run or even run a certain section of the course, just to familiarise yourself with it.

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

The morning of the event is full of emotions from excitement to nervousness so it’s quite easy to get carried away in parts of your race prep.

Give yourself plenty of time to find the right wave and stick to the same warm up that has worked for you in the past.

As soon as you’re off, my advice here is to pace yourself and again go with your plan that you have in place. At every race I attend I always see the emotion of adrenaline take over with waves of people getting carried away as they fire out of the blocks.

My advice here is to stay composed, focus on your own face and stick to your pace — if you start off too quick, you are going to struggle a lot more.

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 race

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. Crossing a finish line and reaching a destination you feel was never going to appear is always a nice feeling — and even better when it’s something like a marathon in which you have perhaps been training hard for the last year.

Now is the time to really enjoy that feeling so cherish that moment with the medal around your neck and get that finish line photo.

Once you have done that go and enjoy the celebrations and then look at doing some recovery — the hours and days after will be important for you to fuel your body with plenty of food and fluids.

To get the body back to full 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 Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Or you can send me a direct message here.