Marathon veteran and CurraNZ athlete Andy Heyden shares his tips on the final preparation for your next marathon.
Having completed over 60 marathons, Andy has a lot of experience on how to prepare in the days leading up to the race and what to think about on race day.
Here, he shares his invaluable insights:
The final week
All the training has now been done so it’s time to focus on the logistics for the race and a few final aspects, writes Andy Heyden.
1. Kit. ideally, you should test out your planned race-day kit in one of your final long runs so you know it is comfortable, fits and doesn’t chaff.
If you haven’t, then do it in a run this week at least. Don’t wear new clothes or shoes for the first time on race day!
2. Nutrition. Over the years, there has been lots of research on what to do in the week leading up to a marathon, from carbohydrate depletion to loading.
I would suggest adhering to your normal diet in the week leading up to the race, ease off any alcohol intake and keep hydrated.
There are many researched benefits to loading up on CurraNZ in the 7-14 days leading into the race and four days following, increasing intake to two capsules a day.
3. Race details. Now is the time to check the race website and carefully read the race event emails.
Make sure you know how you will get to the start line, how early you need to be there, what to do with baggage.
Ensure you know what drinks/nutrition are on offer during the race and what your plan is. I always prefer to rely on my own nutrition e.g. gels that I am used to along with the provided water during the race. If you rely on the energy drinks supplied at the race you never know how much will be in the cups, the level of carbs or how they have been mixed.
4. Race strategy. Plan your race pacing/target time based on your training and adjust for any changes, such as unusually hot or humid conditions on race day. Don't be afraid to be flexible in adjusting your expectations.
The night before
1. Plan. Do all you can to minimise stress on race morning:
If the race starts early, eat your evening meal a bit earlier too, to give it time to digest. Consume a plain meal that isn’t too creamy or spicy!
2. Prepare. Lay out your full kit, attach your race bib/number and write a checklist of what you need to do in the morning so you don’t forget anything.
3. Visualise. Run through your mental game plan, be prepared for the fact that you may feel niggles during the run and it will get rough at some point, be ready to be mentally tough and focus on the finish line
1. Stick to what you know. If you usually have breakfast before long runs, then eat on race day too. Popular pre-race snacks are a banana, or banana on toast or honey on toast.
If you normally have a coffee then stick with it, caffeine has its advantages but isn’t for everyone.
2. Travel early. Leave plenty of time for getting to the start line and toilet queues.
3. Feet come first. Take care with your shoes and socks, make sure your socks are on comfortably without any creases and that you don’t have anything in your shoes, eg sand or debris, that can cause blisters.
Also, don’t over-tighten your shoelaces which can cause issues.
A good tip is to mark your laces with a pen at the point where they come through the final shoe loop on your final long run. Tie them the same on race day.
1. Pacing buddies? Line up with a pacing group (if there is one) for your planned time.
2. Don't go hard early. Stick to your planned pace, it's easy to get over-excited at the start, particularly in a big City race, and start too fast.
3. Hydrate. Drink little and often, small regular drinks are better than longer drinks at one time.
4. Nutrition. Stick to your nutrition plan - write it on your hand if you need to.
5. Keep it steady. If you feel great in the first 10km that’s awesome, but continue to be patient and keep a steady pace. If you still feel great after 25km, that’s the time to think about pushing harder but even then, it may be best to hold back until the 35km mark.
6. Don’t forget to enjoy it! Enjoy the crowds, music, and atmosphere - this can help the whole event feel easier.
1. High fives! Well done, be proud of finishing a marathon!
2. Stay mobile. Keep moving and walking a bit after you have finished.
3. Protein-up. Try to eat within 30 mins of the finish to start the recovery process. A protein shake is a great option and try to include some protein in your meals that day and the next.
4. Continue CurraNZ. Make sure you have stock on hand to continue dosing on two capsules a day for four days afterwards. Take some soon after you've finished the race too.