Marathon series part 6: Race day

Wake up early

Did you sleep badly? Don’t worry. An estimated 90% of your fellow runners did too. Start the day with a light but typical breakfast. Today is not a day for experimenting. If you plan on race day to change your breakfast habits, for example, to take a lighter breakfast than usual, you should have already tested this meal several times. You shouldn’t surprise your stomach with unusual food – it’s probably already a bit nervous! The earlier you eat breakfast, the more time you have to digest it. Just refrain from things like high-fat sausages today.

Start like you finish

Where you should stand at the start depends on your expected pace. The best way to determine how far back from the starting line you should start is to use your finishing time from your last race. If you came in in the top ten, go ahead and stand in the front row. On the other hand, if you’re a weaker runner who typically comes in towards the end of the starting field, then you’ll want to position yourself towards the back of the crowd, in the last starting block. This will slow down your starting pace and let you settle into a smooth, efficient rythm. Do not let your excitement and ambition give you the feeling that you are too slow! The minimal time you lose at the start you will easily make up for over the entire course of the race.

An even pace is trumps

As you might have noticed, it always takes some time after a pace increase until your heart rate has adjusted to the higher pace. During this time, your body consumes more oxygen than the heart and circulatory system can provide. A small oxygen deficit therefore arises. This is really something you don’t want in a marathon. So avoid any sudden pace increases! If you can and want to up the pace, do so, but do it slowly and smoothly. Heartbeat by heartbeat. The slower you increase your pace, the better your body will cope with it. Take advantage of the refreshment stations and drink regularly, even if you do not feel thirsty.

Ignore the wall

Although it is true that with the continuous depletion of glycogen stores, more and more free fatty acids are used in energy production, this change of metabolism however takes place slowly and continuously and there is by no means a "wall" at kilometre 30/mile 20. When and in what form this switch happens depends on many factors. These include one’s general level of fitness, diet, the training you’ve done, your race strategy, pace and much more. The “wall” is nothing more than a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you strongly believe that you will experience the dreaded slump at kilometre 30/mile 20, the placebo effect takes hold and you will not be disappointed.

You’ve done it – congratulations!

Are you satisfied with your result? Regardless of whether you reached the finish line in 2:30 hours or 5:00 hours, it’s a fantastic achievement. Many of those around you will admire you for it. Feel free to be a bit proud of yourself. Once you are back home, write down exactly how the marathon went. What were the heart rate values that you reached? What was your average heart rate? Do you feel you could have run faster? What were the problems? What you could do better next time? Marathon running is a long learning process. You become faster at the marathon not only by training better but also by avoiding mistakes. Learn from your mistakes and run even faster next time. We look forward to helping you!