Ready, steady, go: Get set for the marathon

Ahead of the Irish Examiner Cork City Marathon, Rena Buckley offers key advice for participants:

Prepare physically

  • Give yourself enough time pre-race, so you’re not rushing around looking for parking.
  • Wear appropriate clothing. Irish weather can be variable, so be sure to be prepared.
  • If you are going to take on fuel during the race, have this practiced. Beware of stomach issues.
  • Fuel up days before the race, and not just that morning.
  • Consider your hydration needs. If you plan on running with a water bottle in your hand, practice for that. Remember there will be loads of water stations along the route.
  • Warm up using R.A.M.P.

  • Raise your temperature gradually.
  • Activate the major muscles.
  • Mobilise your joints.
  • Potentiate your nervous system.
  • Apply Vaseline before taking off. There’s little worse than chafing.
  • Prepare mentally

  • Have realistic expectations based upon your levels of training.
  • Pace yourself, and trust the pacers. If you feel you have excess energy, hold onto it until the last two or three kilometres and then go for broke.
  • Remember walking some of the route is okay, particularly if it’s your first marathon.
  • Finishing may be difficult if:

  • It’s your first marathon;
  • If you’ve suffered from an illness in the fortnight before the race;
  • If you’ve consumed alcohol in the month prior to the marathon;
  • If you’re currently using medication;
  • If you currently participate in other sports.
  • Recovery post-race

  • Recovery is individual to the athlete, their experience, and effort.
  • The greater your soreness, the more recovery time you need.
  • You will need nutrition refuels for days afterward.
  • Sleep is a fantastic recovery aid. Your body repairs itself while you sleep, so the more you get, the better.
  • Stretching, with two-minute holds, helps.
  • Compression garments and foam rolling will help.
  • If you go for a recovery run, take it very, very easy, Remember, alcohol hinders recovery.
  • Epsom salts baths are great.
    • BEFORE THE BIG RACE

      LUNGE

      This exercise activates your quadriceps, gluteals and hamstring muscles.

      Take a big step forward. Drop your back knee down slowly, ensuring your front knee doesn’t fall in or pass out your toes.

      Push up quickly through your front foot.

      Reps: 6-8 each leg

      QUADRICEPS MUSCLE

      This exercise helps to release muscle knots.

      Lie on a foam roller with your quadriceps leaning on the foam roller.

      Cross your legs to put more weight through the leg on the roller.

      Using your hands roll your quadriceps on the roller.

      Work through all the quadriceps muscle and belly.

      Try to avoid rolling the tendons near the knee and the hip.

      If you find a tight spot you can spend more time there to help loosen it out.

      Reps: 30-60 seconds x two sets on each muscle group.

      HIP FLEXOR MOBILISATION

      This exercise ensures you have your full range of hip extension.

      Kneel on one leg, placing the other foot on the ground out in front. Keep your body up tall. Move your hips forward and back to mobilise the hip joint.

      Reps: 8-10 each leg.

      SINGLE LEG RDL

      This exercise activates your gluteus maximus and hamstring muscles.

      Stand on one leg. Place a small bend on the knee of your standing leg and don’t change level of bend.

      Reach forward with your hands and reach back with your opposite leg slowly until you feel a stretch up the back of your standing leg. Your back should be parallel to the floor and not rotated.

      Squeeze your gluteal (backside) muscles andreturn to standing quickly.

      Reps: 6-8 each leg.

      HAMSTRING STRETCH

      Sit on the ground with one leg long and the other leg bent so your foot is touching the opposite knee on the inside.

      Reach forward with your hands towards the foot of your straight leg until you feel a stretch at the back of your leg.

      During the two-minute hold, try to increase the stretch gradually.

      Repeat on the other leg, again holding for two minutes.

      CALF STRETCH

      Standing, one foot in front of the other, both feet pointing forward and facing a wall with your hands on the wall.

      Bend the front knee and keep the back knee straight.

      Move the body forward until you feel a stretch at the back of the back leg.

      During the two-minute hold, try to increase the stretch gradually.

      Repeat on the other leg, again holding for two minutes.

      ANKLE DORSIFLEXION MOBILISATION

      This exercise ensures you have your full range of ankle dorsiflexion (bend).

      Standing, place one foot in front of the other, both feet pointing forward and both knees bent slightly.

      Keep your feet on the ground.

      Move the body up and down by bending the back knee. This places a stretch on the back of the ankle.

      Reps: 8-10 each leg.

      GLUTEAL MUSCLES

      Sit on a hardball, for example, massage ball, sliothar or golf ball.

      Roll your gluteals on the ball by moving your body with your hands on the floor.

      If you find a tight spot, you can spend more time there to help loosen it out.

      Reps: 30-60 seconds x two sets on each muscle group.

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