Great North Run: 24 Hours Before The Start


September 7, 2023

The final 24 hours before the Great North Run

The time has come, you are 24 hours away from running the infamous Great North Run!! Here are a few pre-race tips you can try before the big day.

Consider a light 15-20 minute jog in the morning the day before the race to help ease tension and to warm up before stretching.

Look at the weather forecast for race day and wear whatever is going to keep you cool and comfortable. Pack your kit bag with all that you will need on race day – safety pins for your race number, warm clothes, toilet paper, Vaseline, snacks, fluids and your phone.

Avoid spending ages on your feet walking with family and friends sightseeing around the city.

Snack on small meals throughout the day and stay well hydrated. Avoid alcohol too – there’ll be plenty of time for that on the other side of the Great North Run race.

Eat your last main meal at 6-7pm and snack on easily digested carbohydrate snacks afterwards if needed.

Get to bed early. If you find it hard to sleep, don’t worry – this is normal but stay in bed and rest, read and relax.

Race day

Wow it’s finally here – now it really is time to keep your head. Now’s the time to remember those three runs that went well in training or the cause and reason for which you are racing.

Wake early, shower, and take a few moments to breathe deeply, relax and stay calm.

Eat the race day breakfast you have practised in training 1.5 – 2 hours before the race start. Good choices for a breakfast may include toast, bagels, oatmeal, cereal, fruit, small amounts of peanut or almond butter, low-fat cheese, low-fat milk, or a fruit smoothie.

Keep your kit simple and wear the shoes you ran your last few long runs or half marathons in and make sure any clothing has been worn and washed a few times before you race in it – don’t try anything new.

Take a carbohydrate-based snack (for example a banana, an energy bar or energy gels or chews) and sports drink to snack on between breakfast and the race start and be prepared with fuel in case of a delayed start.

Look around you and focus in on the target you have set. Remember your pace, split times and don’t rely on your GPS – they often fail with so many signals in the same area.

Sip your final mouthfuls of water/sports drink but don’t take on more than normal, you don’t need it.

Don’t run to warm up or do any high intensity drills – save your energy and use the first few miles to warm up.

Hand your kit in and perhaps have an old tracksuit and bin liner or previous race foil blanket on to stay warm, and head to your pen 20-30 minutes before the start. In the final minutes take your old kit off.

Your Race

Run at the pace you have practised. After building into your target pace you should then look to lock into the km or mile splits that became familiar to you in the marathon pace sessions and longer runs.
Definitely don’t try to bank faster miles and get ahead of the schedule. This is a sure way to guarantee hitting the wall in the final third of the race and you are using up those carbohydrate stores too quickly.

Perhaps try running a touch under your half marathon pace in the first 5k, then at your planned pace for the middle 10k and then for the last 6km, throw the kitchen sink at it!

Sip on a sports drink and/or water occasionally in the race. You don’t need too much and be sure to not over-drink on the way round.

Remember to smile, take time to relax and draw in the atmosphere – Great North Run memories last a lifetime..

Race Day Tips

Don’t try anything new on race day—no new shoes, new shorts or a new shirt. Don’t guzzle 3 cups of coffee if you usually have one. Your long training runs are when you should be fine-tuning your clothing, gear and fuelling strategies.

Before the Race

  • Hydrate well for several days leading up to your marathon. Drink a big glass of water before you go to bed the night before race day. Drink another one first thing in the morning.
  • Eat a simple, high-carbohydrate breakfast several hours before the start of the race. Bagels, oatmeal, bars and fruit all work well.
  • Lather up with a little Vaseline in any areas vulnerable to chafing (you probably learned where during training runs).
  • Get to the starting line early
  • The temperature is apt to rise over the course of the race, so don’t overdress. If you’re really cold at the start, wear an oversize trash bag over your clothing to keep warm until the starting gun goes off.

During the Race

  • Start slowly. It’s easy to get caught up in the Great North Run race-day adrenaline, but starting too fast is a big rookie mistake. There will be plenty of miles over which to pick up your pace if you’re feeling great.
  • Don’t blaze by every aid station or try to drink from a cup while running full blast. Either practice drinking while running before race day or just pull over for a few seconds to drink.
  • Your body can only store so much glycogen—its primary source of energy during the marathon. As this level gets depleted over the course of your marathon, your muscles will begin to tire and feel heavy. While no amount of fuel consumption during the race can entirely replace your depleted glycogen, consuming small amounts of carbohydrates can help prevent you from hitting the dreaded wall.
  • Energy gels or chews are the easiest to carry and often easiest to digest—but a few pieces of fruit or an energy bar can also do the trick. For any run over 2 hours, aim to take in about 60 grams of carbohydrates per hour.
  • As with everything, make sure to test out various types of fuel on your training runs to see what your stomach tolerates best, so you can fuel confidently on race day.
  • Bathroom lines are longest at the first few aid stations. If you can wait another couple miles without discomfort, it may save you time.
  • If you have a friend coming to cheer you on, plan ahead at which spots along the course he or she will meet you. A friend along the way can be a huge boost.

Good luck from everyone at Physiotherapy Matters, look out for our blog on top tips for recovery after the Great North Run.

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