You feel ready, you trained well, your taper was on point, your diet spot on and you would like to avoid any marathon disasters in 2020. You feel like a racehorse ready to be unleashed. The nature of running and especially marathons can bring about some nasty challenges. So what do you do mid-race when things go awry? Here are five tips to overcome common marathon problems.
Some would say that if you haven’t had a cramp as a marathon runner, then it wasn’t really a marathon. Then again, maybe you are just blessed or you have a great diet and the correct fluid intake. BUT, what do you do when the dreaded cramp does strike?
Stop and stretch it immediately. This will save you more time than trying to hobble along hoping it will disappear. The key is to replace lost electrolytes at the next aid station or better yet on the spot if you can.
If its a mild cramp you may be able to slow down and shorten your stride until you arrive at the next aid station to take in electrolytes and then give it a good stretch.
If you suffer from side cramps or better known as the common “stitch”, it is related to your breathing. The common cause is shallow breathing. So try and breathe deeply to avoid it. We recommend practising this during training rather than on race day.
If you are unable to get a drink as a result of an over-crowded drinks station, don’t panic. You can always ask a fellow runner to share theirs with you. It may be easier if its a friend or at least a club mate, than a stranger. Failing all else the next station is never far off (most often at the next distance marker).
There are so many factors that determine your pace, from the weather to how you feel on the given day, so take it easy on yourself.
Many times your pace will be dictated by the runners around as you start your race.
Remember it is much easier to catch up on your pace if you started slower than if you start too fast and you cannot maintain your pace. Remember there are always more races.
The best thing is to try and avoid blisters in the first place. To avoid falling victim to unwanted blisters and unnecessary chaffing, wear socks that are moisture absorbing, as well as comfortable moisture-wicking running apparel. Ideally, the socks should be running specific with additional cushioning for the heel,
Ensure that you have trainers that fit correctly and that you have trialled the shoes, socks and kit you will wear on race day. Most importantly, Vaseline or Glide are your best friends, so apply it liberally before the race to any areas that are prone to blistering or chafing.
If you’ve never hit the wall before, then great. It is much better avoided than experienced. I hear some of you asking what does “hitting the wall” mean? This is sudden and extreme fatigue brought on by the depletion of your body’s glycogen stores, to such an extent that you struggle to keep moving forward.
Hitting the wall during the later stages of the race will make it difficult to recover, even if you consume extra carbohydrates. The best advice is to avoid this from happening, by carbo-loading in the days before the race. Also, start consuming carbs early on during the race and work out the best spacing strategy during your long run training sessions. Find out what works for you, be it food or gels, as the last thing you want is stomach cramps or an upset tummy.
We hope you marathons in 2020 are strong and filled with many PB’s. Happy running.