Veteran's advice: 'Be careful with different drinks and gels if you've not used them in training'

Veteran's advice: 'Be careful with different drinks and gels if you've not used them in training'

EXPERIENCED athlete Andrew Heyden has raced marathons for 23 years. The expat Brit has also been a prominent distance runner for Australia in recent times after emigrating 'Downunder' and has represented his adopted country on seven occasions, including at the Australian Marathon Championships and the 100km World Championships.

Last year, using CurraNZ, Andrew set three new PBs, including in the marathon, with a benchmark of 2hrs 38 minutes in Sydney, which awarded him a silver for the NSW State Marathon Championship and bronze in the Australian Marathon Championship.

Here are his valuable tips for running a marathon:

1. Shoes: I buy a new pair and start wearing them in a few weeks out from race-day to ensure the cushioning is fresh. I put a line of pen on each shoelace just above the last eyelet after a comfortable long run. I then pull the laces through to this mark on future runs to ensure I don’t under or over tighten them on race day. A small bit useful tip!

2. Nutrition: Different brands of sports drinks and gels can contain different amounts of carbohydrates and if you aren’t used to stronger mixes you can suffer stomach issues - so check out which brand is being used in the race and practice with it in training. Even better - think about carrying your own gels or asking if you can arrange for your own bottles to be placed on the course, to control exactly what you drink. Many races allow this, but don’t prominently advertise it.

3. Mental training: Marathons are hard and it is pretty likely that your brain will start to tell you to slow down or stop some time after 20 miles/32km, so be prepared and have some planned techniques, ie some positive thoughts to picture when the going gets tough.

Different things will work for you, examples could be remembering why you are running, how good it will feel to cross the line and that you can rest for days or weeks after that, why you are running for charity, perhaps recall how lucky you are to be able to run at all etc.

4. Be prepared to change your expectations on your time if the weather is unusually hot or humid.

If you are unlucky and get a much hotter than expected day on race day, be prepared to ease back your pace a bit to compensate.