Never try anything new on race day?
Ask on any running forum or Facebook group what advice people would give before a marathon and you can absolutely bet that someone will sagely warn against trying anything new on race day. This is very good advice, especially when it comes to your race day nutrition! I’ve blogged before about my love of Tailwind as I cannot stand gels and sickly sweet products over marathon distance and it means that, in regards to food, I stick rigidly to the rules. However, I have to admit to being a bit more lax in other areas… last weekend I ran the Windermere marathon and I tried two new things on race day:
- Hydration: as I use Tailwind I need to take water with me as it’s a powder which needs mixing in. This is something that isn’t an issue on ultras where you take your backpack or race vest anyway, but in road marathons things are more tricky. I wore a camelbak at Manchester, but I’ve been exploring other options. I recently bought myself a snazzy handheld Salomon Water bottle with the idea that I could use this- so, having never run with it, I decided that yesterday would be a perfect test. Overall I thought it worked well. I soon forgot that I was carrying it and I definitely preferred it to a camelbak. The downside was that the bottle is only 500ml so if, like me, you pour with sweat, you have to stop and fill it up at the water stations. Ditto with the Tailwind sachets, which aren’t the easiest on the move- I definitely need to think of some sort of tube which I can pour into the bottle more easily whilst running. I wasn’t aiming for a time yesterday so stopping to fill up wasn’t an issue, clearly if PB hunting then it might be back to the camelbak.
- Trainers: I know, this is probably the biggest running crime going. I had a bad time at Manchester last month and I’m convinced that my trainers (Brooks Adrenaline) were part of the problem. I’ve worn Adrenalines for years without issue, but haven’t been enjoying the feel of them this year for some reason. A couple of weeks ago I went to a free Saucony Stride Lab assessment at Up and Running and the results of that
suggested that a Saucony Hurricane would be a good option for me. I highly recommend getting booked on to a Stride Lab session if you get the chance. It took about 45 minutes and involved filming your running stride from the front, side and back so you could get a really close look at what you are doing. My hip extension and toe off were pretty good (yay, think my lazy glute issue is on its way to being fixed), but I do overpronate and drop my hips, so a mild stability shoe was suggested. I took a chance on the Hurricanes- managed one short 4 miler in them before the marathon and decided to test them on race day. The result? My legs felt a hundred times better than at Manchester, I absolutely loved the feel of these shoes!
So, whilst I’m not advocating this as a good rule to follow, I guess I’m saying that if you feel you NEED to make a change, sometimes it can pan out ok. I think that you need to decide what your race is for- is this your ‘A’ race of the season, or is it more of a training run? Obviously if it is your ‘A’ race, then you should have all your preparation in place well before the big day!
Windermere Marathon: My quick review
All I can really say is that if you get chance to run this race, do it. I’m not a huge road running fan, but this is a really stunning route around the lake. Much of the race is run on closed roads and, certainly in the second half, you get some amazing views and some good crowd support from the tourists. The organisation by the Brathay Trust is absolutely flawless- regular aid stations and loads of smiley marshals and volunteers around the course. What I especially enjoyed was the location of the race HQ which was in the grounds of Brathay Hall and there was a real party atmosphere, with plenty for family and friends to do whilst the race was in progress (climbing wall, zip line, canoes, food stalls etc!) and some great options for refuelling after the race (a cider and a monster cheeseburger really hit the spot!) I will definitely be back, despite the horrendous hill at 7 miles!
Happy running this weekend folks, I have some BMF training planned for Saturday and a Sprint Tri on Sunday- no rest for the wicked! 🙂