Paula Radcliffe shares London Marathon running tips

Paula Radcliffe shares London Marathon running tips

The 2021 London Marathon is nearly here, with thousands of runners from around the world descending on the capital to complete 26.2 gruelling miles.

This year is set to be bigger than ever, as the coronavirus pandemic meant that runners last year had to RFH (Run From Home).

In the spirit of the event, world champion and three-time winner of the London Marathon Paula Radcliffe has shared some top running tips as part of
Flora’s Get Towns Active campaign.

So while you charge your iPod – which has undoubtably been crammed with motivational bops – here is some unmissable advice from one of the world’s top athletes.

How to beat your personal best in the London Marathon

Can’t seem to break your personal best, no matter how hard you try? You’re not alone – even professional athletes plateau from time to time.

Paula Radcliffe suggests pacing yourself at the start, making sure you don’t go too fast.

This can be counter-intuitive since you’re trying to complete the distance as fast as possible, but Paula says that it’s ‘dangerous’.

She explains: ‘It’s worth trying to hold yourself back and almost taking advantage of how thick the crowds of runners are at that point, to not panic, not stress avoid running too fast in the early stages.

‘Once you’ve gone over Tower Bridge, then you can concentrate on running a little bit quicker. That’s quite a nice part of the course as there are a lot of long straights, not too many sharp corners.’

Paula also suggests playing simple games to keep your mind busy and focus on the rhythm of your pace.

She said: ‘I used to do simple things like counting in my head up to 100 and then starting again – I knew that roughly three times to 100 was a mile, so I was breaking it down into manageable segments.

‘It’s anything just to keep your mind focused and on that simple thing of placing one foot in front of the other and a rhythm in your breathing that really helps.’

How do you mentally prepare to run the London Marathon?

The thought of running for hours on end can be daunting, and this fear can impact your performance.

Paula explains that it’s important to simply get yourself into a positive mindset and enjoy the day.

She said: ‘Tune into the atmosphere of the day – there’s a real buzz and sense of excitement! Use it as fuel.’

‘Mentally accept that it’s not going to be easy. Some bits are going to be tough, but they’re also going to be parts that you’re going to love,’ she added.

‘Get through the difficult bits by looking forward to the good bits, and visualising how you’re going to feel crossing that finish line is a good way to keep yourself going through those difficult periods.’

Nutritional tips to help support your body and aid recovery after running the London Marathon

After running such a long distance, the last thing you want to do is eat.

Many people feel nauseous after running as the blood has drained from their stomachs into their tired legs.

However, Paula stresses that it’s ‘really important’ to get something down you after your run.

She said: When you finish your run, it’s really important to eat within 20 minutes. Get some food, not just hydration, but carbohydrates and protein as well in that 20 minute window as that’s when the muscle are most open to refuelling and re-energising.

‘If you don’t do that and miss that window, you’re far more likely to be sore and not as recovered the next day. If you actually do it in that 20-minute window, it really helps to recover quickly. 

‘Eat something with protein, something with carbohydrates, and obviously some liquid as well in the first 20 minutes, even if it’s just a banana and a handful of cashew nuts.’

Nutritionist Amaeze Madukah previously explained to Metro.co.uk, ‘A marathon runner will be depleting more glycogen than a bodybuilder so will require more carbohydrates post-workout.

‘You can find protein in foods such as eggs, nuts, salmon, sardines, tofu, tempeh, beans, and quinoa.

‘Carbohydrate examples include wholegrain oats, wholegrain bread, fruits such as bananas and berries.

‘Fats are needed in the repair process also and can be found in foods such as Greek yogurt, avocadoes, and nuts.’

It’s not all about food – hydration is also vital to post-marathon recovery.

Your body would have lost large amounts of fluid after sweating for hours on end, so it’s important you keep sipping on liquids during the hours following your race.

Check out our guide to the perfect pre-marathon breakfast.

What are some tips for people who want to start running?

Feeling inspired by the London Marathon to go on your first-ever jog? Then Paula Radcliffe has some tips for you, too.

Remember that getting into running is a marathon, not a sprint (pun intended) and so Paula suggests that you ‘start gradually’.

She said: ‘Don’t suddenly try and run a marathon first day, instead start by walking and running a bit.

‘When you’re just starting out, it’s really important to give your body a day off after a big run to see how it recovers and how it responds.’

Paula added that it’s important to start with the right running shoes, as this can make all the difference.

She suggests doing to a running shop that has gait analysis facilities – this is essentially a treadmill with a camera set up at the back so the assistant can analyse your running style before suggesting corrective footwear.

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Paula said that motivation is the key to enjoying running and keeping it up.

She said: ‘To motivate yourself, join up with a group of friends, a running club or an app and make a plan. It doesn’t have to be a rigid plan, in fact it shouldn’t be a rigid plan, it needs to be flexible according to how you feel each day and how you respond to the training.’

For more information on how to join in the Get Towns Active movement, visit Flora.com and follow along with Mark Wright, Paula Radcliffe, and the rest of the Flora community on Instagram using #TeamFlora #GetTownsActive

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