The Dublin Marathon is now less than one month away. When I was training for marathons, the last month really seemed to drag on. I was waiting for every day to go by while making sure not to overdo things and ease myself into the last few days before the race. With around a month to go, it felt like it was so near but yet so far off.
I had a lot of training done, a lot of miles in my legs but still a few more important sessions to do. I was nervous that I would get injured or sick after all the hard work. That was foremost in my mind. This, in turn, had the effect of putting a lot of pressure on myself. Added to this was the fact that, of course, all my supporters wanted me to do well and I wanted to be successful for them.
The athletics community in Ireland is small, and over the years I have been lucky to chat to and meet great people who were probably more nervous for me before races than I was myself; true, genuine, down-to-earth people who love the sport of athletics.
I know all of you out there preparing for the marathon are feeling a little anxious as the clock ticks down. You are probably feeling a little tired and losing enthusiasm. Don't worry, this is quite normal. Relax, don't put pressure on yourself and 'keep the faith'. Have confidence in yourself. Every training session better prepares you for the 26.2 miles, giving you the ability to arrive at the starting line knowing you have trained well and effectively with no regrets.
It has been a long road but you are almost there, so stay calm and focused. To perform at your best after all the months of training you have been doing, you need to get plenty of rest, eat well and look after yourself.
Plan your last long run no later than three weeks before the marathon. This will give your body time to recover well and will be more beneficial on the day of the race than additional mileage. To make the last long run effective, give your body as much rest as possible, especially in the days leading up to it, and you will feel fresh and able to get through the run without too much bother. This will boost your confidence for the race itself.
Another good way to get a bit of life into your legs over the last few weeks is to add some strides to one of your runs during the week. Strides are not intense. They are helpful in keeping a better running form and teach your muscles how to relax and maintain a good running rhythm at a higher speed. You could do six-to-eight 100m strides.
Another thing that would be very helpful is to get a massage every week between now and the marathon. This will help to break down adhesions, increase circulation and range of motion while releasing tension and relaxing your muscles.
When you are doing a lot of miles, your immune system can become depleted and you can be at risk of catching a cold or flu. So by eating well and getting lots of rest, you have a much better chance of staying healthy.
Make sure after your runs to have a hot shower straight away and eat something within 20 minutes. This will help with your recovery.
I hope you can stay positive, strong and healthy during the final phase of your marathon preparation. It can be an anxious wait, but try not to think too much about the challenge ahead. Stay calm and focussed and the race date will come in its own good time.