Sunday, January 19, 2020 marks the day when most runners would take to the streets of Mumbai for the Mumbai Marathon 2020. Whether you’re running a marathon for the first time, or are a veteran lacing up your shoes in the hopes of reaching a new personal best, it’s important to focus on yourself on the day before the race. To help you out, we got Nike Run Club’s Head running coach, Daniel Vaz, who has already run 41 marathons himself, to share his tops tips.
1) Plan your pre- and post-run diet
“The day before you’re competing, your diet should comprise primarily of complex carbohydrates, which should be at least 60-70 per cent of your daily calorie intake,” says Vaz. Carbohydrates have sugar-based molecules, so the body can use them to create glucose. This glucose then becomes stored in the liver and muscles as molecules of glycogen, which work as long-term energy storage units. Glycogen is particularly helpful when a large amount of energy is needed for a sustained amount of time, like a lengthy run. Rice, pasta and yoghurt are the most popular choices for this. “Just before you go out and run (two hours before), you should eat an easily digestible carbohydrate like bread and butter or a fruit (like a banana or an apple),” says Vaz. In terms of what you shouldn’t eat, coaches suggest against foods that are too high in fat or protein during crunch time. Vaz also recommends you avoid animal protein, as it is harder to digest and become quick energy.
Once you’re done with the race, Vaz suggests grabbing a carb-heavy snack to replenish lost glycogen, and then eating a protein and carb-rich meal two hours after to help the muscles heal.
2) Hydration is key
Drinking water 24-48 hours before a marathon is key. How much should you gulp down? “This is usually specific to every individual as it all depends on one key factor, which is the sweat rate of every individual. So, the amount of hydration you need will be proportional to how much you sweat, and this could be worked out from how you hydrated yourself during your practice runs. However, as a general guideline, 150-200ml every 20 mins would be a good estimate during the race itself,” says Vaz.
3) Don’t overdo it
If you’ve been thinking about getting in one last training session before race day, you might want to skip it. In fact, if you have the time to sneak in a massage, this would be a great day to do it. The day before you’re running, Vaz suggests keeping it simple with your training, without letting your body get too stiff. “You could either do an easy run for 30 mins, followed by an extensive stretching routine, or do 30 mins of brisk walk, followed by an extensive stretching routine. Static stretching the day before is important. However, on the day of the race, a simple warm-up should replace usual stretching,” he recommends.
A day before the race, Vaz suggests laying out all the things you’ll need so you’re not stressed in the morning—your kit, shoes, socks and other must-haves. Coaches say that the golden rule is to not try anything new on race day, so choose shoes that you’ve already broken into and practiced in to prevent shoe bites or sprains.
While physical preparation is key, calming your mind is just as important. “It’s more important to sleep well a few days before the race. Your brain might be too wired the night before, or you might be worried about not waking up to your early alarm, thus causing interrupted sleep. Try keeping electronics away, and meditating or practicing yoga to get you in a relaxed mental state, but don’t stress about the lack of zzzs,” Vaz concludes.