Paula Radcliffe: How to run your best marathon
Fancy taking on one of the fastest women in marathon history? Paula Radcliffe shares her five steps for success, so you too can maximise your running potential.
Running your first race can be a daunting experience, especially if you're taking on a full 26 miles. Long distances demand a commitment to training but also often require a full diet overhaul to ensure you're fuelling an aching body with all the nutrition it needs to repair and make it stronger. Paula Radcliffe held the women's world record for the distance up until 2019, so who better to get you race-ready in five simple steps? Nail your training and feel stress-free at the start line with Paula's essential tips.
Q: What are your five go-to snacks and ingredients?
Sometimes I have one before I run. Sometimes I'll just have one in my bag for when I've finished. They're easy to mash up in lots of things, too. My kids love flapjacks made with mashed bananas.
3. Mixed nuts
Especially almonds – I love almonds and almond butter. It's good to have a handful of nuts straight after training. I think a little bit of salt is good so I have the dry roasted ones.
4. Salmon and other fish
5. Dark chocolate
It has bioflavonoids and a bit of iron in it – that's my excuse!
Q: What are the four most important things you would recommend people have in their kit bag for race day?
1. Carbohydrate drinks
These are a good way to keep loading up on energy to the start of the race. You want one with some electrolytes in it as well.
2. Power bar
Some people like to have just a little bit of an energy bar. Jelly babies, dark chocolate or something similar are good to keep you going.
3. Old clothes or a bin liner
It's good to have something you can keep on until the last minute that you can throw away. You send your kit bag to the finish but you want to stay warm before the race.
4. Anti-chaffing cream
Rub it on your feet before you put your shoes on. Apply it to any other areas that may rub because it's going to make the experience more comfortable.
Q: If you're training for your first marathon what are the three diet and lifestyle changes you'd recommend?
1. Be more hydrated
We say roughly an extra litre for every hour that you train in hot conditions. So if you're training every day, you need to be getting in almost an extra litre every day.
2. Consume plenty of protein as well as carbs
You're going to need to tweak your diet and pay more attention to carbohydrate and protein because you're building muscle and breaking it down. People always think about the carbs and don't think so much about the protein side of it.
You need more sleep and more recovery time!
Q: What are the two most common mistakes new runners make and how can they avoid them?
1. Running in the wrong shoes
It's not the ones that look cool or have the prettiest colours. It's the ones that suit your running style. Go to a specialist store, run up and down, have them assess whether you're a pronator, supinator or neutral and then get the shoe that's right for you. It's going to reduce injury risk massively.
2. Pace yourself and build up the training gradually
Don't just jump in because it's the first week, being all enthusiastic and trying to do everything. Don't increase distance or time more than 10% a week.
Q: What is the one thing you can do on race day to get across the finish line that bit faster?
1. Don't over-stress it. Run how you feel and enjoy the atmosphere
Yes, you need to pace yourself but don’t over-analyse. Take in the atmosphere and tune into yourself. Run according to your instincts and what you feel is the right pace because the atmosphere will lift you on the day. If you look at your watch thinking, 'Oh, that mile was 10 seconds faster than I should have done it,' you'll get stressed. Tune into your body and stay focused. Know that everybody has bad moments in a marathon so don't panic when you get to them. You've just got to get through it and then you'll be fine.
Energy-boosting snacks to keep you going
You'll find more expert tips and meal plans in our marathon training and nutrition hub.
Are you running a marathon this year? Tell us how your training is going and share your own tips for success in the comments below...