Marathon Top Tips from Portaferry Olympian Ciara Mageean
Lidl Northern Ireland has set up a brand-new partnership with Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon as its official ‘Fresh Fruit Supplier’, which provided competitors in Sunday’s Belfast City Marathon with an energetic and healthy boost to power them to the finish line.
Ciara Mageean, a Sport for Good LIDL ambassador and an Olympic middle distance runner from Portferry, has offered up some useful advice for anyone preparing for a marathon as runners across County Down and beyond get set for a summer season of running.
Ciara Mageean said: “There are a number of very important steps to take if you want to finish a marathon.
“Practice. This doesn’t just mean running training, that goes without saying. Practice also applies to your race day fuelling, shoes, and clothing.
“Plan what you are going to eat on race day and practice this in training. This includes your pre-race meal to ensure you know what settles well in your stomach, and the timing of when to eat it.
“Practice your race fuelling and hydration, and replicate this in your training.
“Stay comfortable. Don’t change your race day shoes and gear. You want to ensure what you are wearing is comfortable for the entire 26.2 miles.
“The key to this, don’t change anything on race day. You do not want any surprises out there.
“Don’t stress if you find it hard to sleep the night before, it happens the best of us! Ensure you are sleeping and resting well in the week leading into the race and you will be A OK.
“Find your pacing group. If you have a certain time in mind, find the group pacing to this time. The leader often wears a t-shirt with pacer on the back. These pacers are experienced, they will keep a steady pace, so keep your eye on them.
“Fuel early, and keep fuelling when you planned. Don’t wait until you feel you need it to take on your race fuelling. You may not feel like taking on fuel or hydration at certain times, but your body will thank you as the race goes on.
“Mental preparation can be super helpful. This is something I use before every race. Create a few scenarios, some that are great like “I feel amazing and fly through the race on cloud nine”, some not so great like “I feel heavy, sluggish and the weather is dreadful”. Then create solutions for these scenarios. This can help you prepare for whatever the marathon throws at you. It doesn’t need to be exhaustive, you’ll soon realise most solutions are very similar.
“Break the race down. This can help the 26.2 miles or 42km feel less daunting. Breaking it up into 5k blocks, or perhaps using landmarks to aim for then rewarding yourself mentally when you reach each block.
“Very practical advise here, lubricate! Find what works for you to stop any rubbing, nipple guards are also a thing and can be a life saver.
“Another practical tip, watch where you’re running. A top marathoner recently took a bad tumble over a speed bump. When you’re in a group, or are feeling tired tripping can be a real risk.
“Enjoy the race, take in the atmosphere, the crowd, remember all the hard work you’ve put in, you are amazing.
“And finally, look after yourself after. You just finished the marathon! Your body got you all the way around, make sure you refuel it, rehydrate it, and maybe treat it to something nice like a massage, or an ice bath (not so nice). You will be grateful for this later in the week,” added Ciara Mageean.