With the Virgin Money London Marathon moving virtually this year along with many others, it’s important to think about how this affects race preparation and running. HIGH5 share their secrets for success.
From creating your own rules and route to inviting family and friends along for support, running a virtual marathon has its advantages. However, you might still find yourself missing the big crowds and race day adrenaline that would normally help you keep up the motivation in later stages.
Here are our top tips on preparing for your next virtual marathon.
The week before
On the week leading up to any event, there’s a lot of planning to do. Even though the race is virtual, the preparation remains the same as it would for a ‘normal’ race.
- Keep on training – This is still 26.2 miles, no matter where you do it, so make sure you stick to your training plan.
- Now is the time to get your nutrition right – stay hydrated and eat well, snacking often.
- Make sure you’re staying rested – don’t be tempted to stay up late in the week leading up to your event. Wake up on race day ready to go.
- Organise your kit – You should have already trained in anything that you're planning to wear on the day. Get your kit out the night before so it’s ready to go.
How to choose your route
What route are you going to do? Point-to-point? Multiple loops? Out and back? Make sure you’ve got this planned and decided before the day, as it’s up to you to choose now! If you choose to run near home, you can also run portions of your potential route while training to see how you like them.
Here are our tips for choosing your route:
- Find a route that works for what you need and that you find exciting. 26.2 miles is a long run and some variety will help keep you going.
- If possible, choose a flat route… unless you’re looking for a challenge!
- Try and stick to trails and pavements if you can – roads won’t be closed, and safety should always come first.
- Keep in mind wind direction. If your route is point-to-point, try and run with the wind rather than against it.
- Try and plot in landmarks and views to keep your route interesting and help with motivation.
Get your nutrition right
Another downside to running a virtual marathon is that there are no feed stations waiting for you, meaning you need to plan your nutrition ahead of time. Here are some tips on how to stay fuelled:
- Create mini-feed stations along your route with the support of family or friends. We recommend taking a HIGH5 Energy Gel Aqua every 30 minutes, so place these feed stations depending on your pace.
- Plan a route with shorter loops that allow you to run back past your house if you’re running solo. For example, if planning to take a gel every 30 minutes, you could plan out an hour loop, take one gel at home and carry one with you. If you want to carry more gels, you could create a longer loop.
- Another option is to carry a small backpack with a water bladder and a race belt. Our recommendations are to take a gel every 20-30 minutes, totalling 10-12 gels over a 4-5 hour race. You could add HIGH5 Energy Drink to your water bladder for extra energy if you don’t want to carry that many gels or you are unable to make your own feed station.
Not sure where to start with race day nutrition? Check out HIGH5’s guide here.
How to stay motivated on course
26.2 miles can get tough towards later stages, especially without crowds cheering you on. Here are our tips on how to give your race some of that event day magic:
Get your family and friends involved – whether they’re running alongside you in sections, at feed stations or making plenty of noise!
- Let your neighbours and friends know about your race – when, where and why you’re taking part. You can ask them to come and support you if they’re able – even if it’s just from their living room window as you zoom past!
- Find other participants that might be nearby by searching online or through the charity you’re supporting. You could run a route with them!
- Use social media to share your progress and encourage your friends to share your efforts!
Words by HIGH5 Sports Nutrition