Top Marathon Advice: Q&A With Running Expert Claire Giles

Personal trainer, marathon runner, and part of the Brighton & Hove parkrun Core Team with over 175 parkruns under her belt, Claire Giles knows running.

As The Brighton Marathon approaches this weekend, followed by the London Marathon the week afterwards, we thought it would be the perfect time to get a running pro to talk through some top tips for race day.

We’ve asked Claire, who’s taking part in the Brighton Marathon herself, to offer up her sound and qualified advice on how to get across the finish line with a smile on your face, in no time.

Marathon Advice

What’s the one piece of advice you would give to a 1st time marathon runner?

You definitely need to train. Try to follow a marathon training plan. Always remember that although the plans are a guide everyone is unique, so listen to your body.

You want to be fit on the start line. Don’t overdo your training and don’t be afraid to rest. The main thing is to go out there and enjoy the day – it really is amazing and you never get your first marathon back.

What’s the best way to approach race day?

The night before get your things together; race number, clothes etc. I have pasta for dinner, not too late, and make sure you go to bed early.

My breakfast is porridge, and a boiled egg, cup of tea. I eat that two hours before I‘m due to leave for the race, so it’s generally an early breakfast.

How should you fuel during a marathon to maintain your energy?

You need to work out what’s right for you. On race day runners have gels, nuts, flapjacks, Shot Bloks, but you need to make sure you try these out during your training. Don’t start using them on race day. You don’t know how your body will react to them.

I used gels once but wasn’t keen on the texture or flavour, but, I am going to try them again. I often use Shot Bloks and occasionally Jelly Babies too.

You definitely need to hydrate. Drink plenty of water in the days running up to the marathon, but don’t drink masses on the morning of the race. Each runner is different so you need to find the fuel that satisfies you.

If you hit a mental block on race day, how can you push past it?

You go through many emotions before, during and after marathon day. Mental endurance is what gets you through.

You run the first part with head, the middle part with your personality and the last part with your heart.

When I ran the Brighton Marathon last year I did hit the wall at 19-23 miles. You feel like you can’t go any further, but just tell yourself “come on, you can do it, you’ve run before, and you can keep going”. Just believe in yourself.

The crowds get you through the atmosphere is amazing. Everyone cheers, and says your name (if you have this on your t shirt).

What should you do if you get an injury?

This all depends on what type of injury you’ve picked up. If it’s aches and pains then slow your pace down; walk, jog etc. Try and not think about the pain as it’s only temporary.

If it’s something more serious just stop. If you are in serious trouble don’t go on, you may cause more damage. Stopping is the best for your body if you need too, but don’t be angry if you do.

How can you prevent injuries during the race?

To prevent injuries on race day, make sure you start off slowly and don’t get caught up with the crowds and speed off too quickly. You don’t want to burn yourself out at mile 2 when you have 24 miles to go. Try and focus on technique and keep hydrated. Fuel up on gels, shot bloks, nuts… whatever you need to help you get though.

Make sure you have worn your trainers and clothes in. This way you’ll know how they feel. Take out any labels that could scratch you and remember to wear socks that are comfy.

What’s the importance of recovery & why should you invest time in it?

Rest and recovery is vital in training. Your muscles tear when exercising and they need to be given the time to repair. Proper recovery helps to prevent injury, build strength, help your body avoid over training and mental burn out.

What are the key, rookie mistakes you should avoid during your marathon?

Don’t eat a different breakfast on race day and don’t go off too quickly.

Fuel up and if you need to slow down, do. If you need to walk for a bit and then run, then do! Remember, at the end of the day it’s a Marathon not a sprint, it’s your race and your pace.

What’s your favourite thing about marathon running? What have this year’s runners got to look forward to?

For me I just love running and enjoy the training. I have trained in all weathers: snow, frost, cold, wind, rain, sun, cloud. I have seen some amazing views while running, and met some fabulous people.

Marathon day really is special. It’s very emotional and one you will never forget. I’m still buzzing from last year’s! Go out there, enjoy it and soak up the atmosphere.

Some may say never again and others will ask which one shall I enter next….that’s the spirit of the marathon…

Good luck to everyone taking part this year. Hopefully you’ll find this marathon advice helpful and you completely smash your run. Let us know how you get on and most importantly enjoy yourself!

Claire Giles is a personal trainer, marathon runner and part of the Brighton & Hove parkrun Core Team. For more information on Claire visit her website or Facebook page. For more information about parkrun and to find your closest event take a look at www.parkrun.org.uk.

Claire Giles