John Shepherd takes an in-depth look at one of the most vaunted of all physiological tests
Sonia Samuels’ marathon adviceApril 22, 2016
If your first marathon is around the corner, then GB international Sonia Samuels, whose PB of 2:28:04 was set in Berlin last year, has some last-minute advice
The last few days before the race can seem like an eternity so I like to keep busy. A relaxed five miles and strides usually do the trick.
On the day
I usually get up at 4.45am on race day so I can be eating breakfast by 5am. My breakfast is the same as it is every day during the build-up. I love my porridge made with water and almond milk topped with Meridian Foods almond butter, cinnamon and half a banana. I have my carbs in there and some protein and potassium from the banana.
Before the race I keep my hydration topped up with an electrolyte drink I use during training. During the race I take on fluid every three miles on the course and sometimes I have additional gel at half way. This is usually a gel with electrolytes and carbs in them and again I would have tested the gel product out in training to make sure I can stomach it.
I always break the race up into 5km sections as this is where the drinks stations are and it gives me something to look forward to.
After 30km when things start to get painful I focus on my cadence and I use counting to keep a rhythm. You have to find what works for you and practise this in training when things get tough.
The first 10 miles of any marathon can be tough as it is all about being patient and ticking off the miles. But I think that is especially pertinent to London (I placed 16th there in 2015 and 19th in 2012).
The Isle of Dogs can be quite challenging as there aren’t many spectators on the course at this point so it is very quiet in comparison to the final run-in on the Embankment and Birdcage Walk. It’s a case of staying focused and using the mental strategies in your armoury.
To perform at my best I have to fuel with the right food. In my spare time I have started growing my own herbs and veggies and researching the best nutrition.
I love my own ‘banana boost recovery shake’ which is ideal for drinking in the days after a hard run or race. The whey isolate it contains gives damaged muscles what they need for optimal repair, while the Maca powder has a whole range of nutritional benefits to help with repair and regrowth – as well as tasting deliciously of caramel.
To make it, simply whizz the following ingredients together:
– Two bananas (ideally sourced straight from a Kenyan plantation)
– Coconut water
– One scoop of Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate (£19.59; myprotein.com)
– One heaped teaspoon of MyProtein Maca Powder (£19.99; myprotein.com)
» Interview by Matt Long, England Athletics Midlands cell lead for the national coach development programme (youth). Sonia Samuels is sponsored by Brooks Running
» Sonia Samuels is among the elite athletes racing this year’s Virgin Money London Marathon. See the April 21 edition of AW magazine for in-depth previews to the action