3 ways to boost your body pre-marathon
If you are in ‘preparation mode’ for the upcoming London Marathon, then you’re more than likely searching for ways to get to the finish line in the most efficient and fun way possible?
Whether you’re running the marathon for the first time and raising money for a particularly special cause that you feel strongly about, or you’re doing the marathon to achieve a lifelong goal or to beat a previous time, many things drive us to put our body through a mentally and challenging feat.
One thing that’s certain is your nutrition pre-marathon will largely determine your performance on the day.
The purpose of this article is to give you tips on how to boost an area that will be tested over the weeks to come – your immune system.
You’re going to be outside, training during the fresh, dark and wet winter mornings and evenings before or after work. How do you keep your body from catching a cold? How do you speed up recovery to prevent injuries?
I am going to share with you three often overlooked ideas to keep you healthy so you can enjoy the big day and maximise your experience in the run up pre-event.
Firstly, before we delve in, it’s worth noting that a healthy overall attitude is to not sweat the small things. Elite athletes will scrutinise all the little habits, clothing and nutrition, but you don’t need to worry about that.
“You don’t have to be great to start, but you have to start to be great.” – Zig Ziglar
If you keep consistent with the below three foundation principles, then you will be putting your body in a really strong place.
I know it’s talked about a lot these days and everyone and their dog knows how vital enough quality sleep is, but many athletes still cut corners with their sleep.
I forget who mentioned this quote, but it states:
‘To know something of great value and to not apply it, is just the same as not knowing it!’
Seven, or ideally eight hours of restorative sleep every night is imperative. When working with coaching clients, this is always the first place we start.
It is said that an hour of sleep before midnight is worth two after midnight, so if you’re a night owl, look to get to bed a fraction earlier every night. To do this, work out your usual bedtime and then get to bed just five or ten minutes earlier every night. That compounds to 60-120 minutes over a few weeks.
Your training will be taxing on your body, and the best recovery happens when the eyes are closed, and your body is at rest. With adequate sleep comes the body’s ability to recover, repair, strengthen, produce essential hormones and all sorts of other essential processes.
I’d recommend the book, or audiobook called ‘Why We Sleep’ by Matthew Walker if you’d like to educate yourself on the power of sleep.
BTW Even adding 30 quality minutes will make a difference. Focus on progress and not perfection. Your body will thank you for that.
Not the race course but the salts. Epsom bath salts in the evening on training days are a fantastic and indulgent way to treat yourself on so many levels. Magnesium is an extremely important mineral which gets used up quickly when we exercise and are under stress. Over time, low magnesium can lead to muscle cramps (especially in the hands and feet), muscle spasms, restless legs, low immune function, lower testosterone levels and poor sleep to name but a few issues.
Taking a hot Epsom salt bath helps the body absorb magnesium through the skin. It is also very relaxing after a hard run or a hard day in general. If you don’t have a bath, no worries. Create a foot soak with a bowl or a bucket, or treat yourself to a foot spa and your feet will absorb the benefits for your whole body.
For a bath add 500g of the salts to your bath, for a foot soak add 200g. I get my medical grade salt from Amazon in five or ten-kilogram boxes (make sure you keep it dry until in the bath). Once it is in the bath, make sure it’s all absorbed before stepping in.
Deep breathing while in the bath will help the body and mind relax too. This is your time. Switch your phone off to minimise distractions and tell your family not to disturb you. At least 12 minutes gives the benefits, and any more is a plus. After mentioning how important sleep is before, an Epsom bath will prepare the body and mind for some great shut-eye.
I said right at the start of this article to focus on the simple steps, so here goes leaving the really simple stuff until last.
You most likely do this anyway, but just a thought provoker.
Make sure you are constantly washing your hands. Yes, I know this is so obvious, and I don’t want to teach you to suck eggs, but in a World where rushing about is so common, it’s easy to forget.
Clean your computer keyboard, your phone and the steering wheel of your car if you drive – these areas gather germs, and we are in constant contact with laptops/computers and phones.
Keep food preparation areas and bins clean. These areas can be forgotten, and when the big run is coming up, you want to be firing on all cylinders.
Even one extra wash when rushing about can make a difference.
That is it for today.
Good luck with the big day!
Well done for taking the steps to take the many steps of a marathon.
Keep healthy and have a great time.