FAQ.

How to Register.

Participants should register online

Entry Fees
Entry is FREE

Any athlete registered under an athletics federation or body either home or abroad is not eligible to run in the 10km race.

Rules and Regulations
All participants must agree to the following rules and regulations in order to proceed.

The following rules and regulations apply to all entrants.

  • The official entry form must be fully completed by each intending participant.
  • The Onitsha City Marathon is organized in accordance with the rules and regulations of the AFN, World Athletics (Formerly IAAF) and AIMS and all participants must agree to abide by these rules and regulations and comply with all reasonable directions and decisions made by the officials and representatives of the AFN, IAAF and AIMS.
  • Whilst every reasonable precaution will be taken by the organizers to ensure the participants’ safety, participants run at their own risk and the organizers shall not be liable for any loss and/or damage whether personal or otherwise and howsoever arising. All participants accept responsibility for travel and medical insurance and for payment and/or reimbursement of any medical/surgical expenses incurred.
  • There is an official three hour finish time limit for the Marathon with the police and medical support. Any remaining participants after the three-hour limit will be requested to run on the side of road.
  • In accordance with the rules and regulations of the AFN, IAAF and AIMS, a runner must retire from the race immediately when requested to do so by any member of the Referee or official medical staff.
  • There will be no refund or transfer of participation for participants who do not take part or if the event is canceled for whatever reason.
  • The organizers reserve the right to limit and refuse any entries.

FAQs

Participants

Registration has not commenced due to the pandemic.

Places in the Onitsha City Marathon are not transferable under any circumstances (see terms and conditions of entry). Anyone attempting to run using another person’s entry will be disqualified and banned for life from the Onitsha City Marathon.

No. Unfortunately this is not possible. The number of runners on each start is carefully calculated and it is therefore not possible to move runners from one start to another. Please note there are marshals on each start to check that runners are on the correct start.

Registration

All runners must collect their running number and registration pack from the Onitsha City Marathon run number collection point. The venue is at Chuba Ikpeazu Stadium beside Obi of Onitsha’s Palace, Awka Road Onitsha Anambra State, Nigeria.

Dates for collection of Running Numbers shall be announced.
Please note that the collection desks will shut promptly at the time and dates which will be announced and it is not possible under any circumstances to collect running numbers after that time or on race day.

You must bring your final confirmation email plus valid ID with your photograph (e.g. valid passport or driving license with photograph) with you to collect your running number. If your passport is out of date or you have an old-style driving license with no photograph then please bring another form of photographic ID.

Collection will close promptly at the time and dates which will be announced and no running numbers will be issued after this time under any circumstances. We strongly suggest that you allow plenty of time to collect your running number. Failure to collect your running number means you will not be able to run in the 2023 Onitsha City Marathon.

Yes. You can nominate someone to collect your running number for you. The person you nominate must have the following with them:
A copy of the final confirmation email sent to the participant they are collecting for.
The person collecting your number must have suitable photographic identification with them – Their passport or ID. They will sign on behalf of the participant. If these instructions are not followed, the running number will not be issued

Race

A Final Instructions email with full details of everything you need to know will be sent to you. This will include information about collecting your running number and registration pack, getting to the start and final preparations.

Will be announced.

We suggest you get to your allocated start at least one hour before the race begins. This will allow time for you to warm up and take your position in the starting pens.

You should decide on the time and place to meet based on your predicted finish time. Please remember that it can take up to 40 minutes from the time the runner has crossed the Finish Line for the runner to collect their finisher’s medal and water, kitbag and exit the secure area at the finish.

There is no public parking near the finish. It is strongly recommended that you use public transport.

Spectators

There are lots of good locations around the course on Awka Road with good access coming from the Oguta Road direction. Please refer to the Marathon Map to plan your viewing. There are two grandstands at the finish area with free seating on a first come first served basis.

Yes. Full details to follow on the website.

General Info.

Start and finish

The start of the Marathon will be in front of Onitsha Shopping Mall. The finish will be at the Chuba Ikpeazu Stadium beside Obi of Onitsha’s Palace, Awka Road Onitsha Anambra State, Nigeria.

START TIME

21km: Elites - 6:30am, General – 7:00am

GETTING TO THE START

Participants driving are advised to park their vehicles at the All Saints Cathedral field or at Ezechima Nursery and Primary School field as most roads around the start area will be closed. Attempts to drive to the areas may cause congestion and delays and violators may be sanctioned. Participants are advised to come 90 minutes before start time to avoid any rush or delays.

Running Number Collection

Dates for collection of running number at Chuba Ikpeazu Stadium shall be announced shortly.

GETTING TO THE START

Participants driving are advised to park their vehicles at the All Saints Cathedral field or at Ezechima Nursery and Primary School field as most roads around the start area will be closed. Attempts to drive to the areas may cause congestion and delays and violators may be sanctioned. Participants are advised to come 90 minutes before start time to avoid any rush or delays.

Running Number Collection

Dates for collection of running number at Chuba Ikpeazu Stadium shall be announced shortly.
PLEASE NOTE: Participants are advised to come with proof of identification when coming to collect their running numbers. Peradventure, participants intend to have their running number collected on their behalf; the person collecting must come to our office with the printed out copy of the form or the final confirmation received by e-mail. They must have proof of their identity in order to do this.

T/Shirts, Medals and Certificates Marathon

All marathon participants will receive an official race t/shirt, a finisher’s medal and downloadable finisher’s certificate

Awards (Medals and Certificates)

All finishers of the marathon will receive medals and certificates.

Race Day Temperature

The temperature will be announced shortly.

Race Timing

The race will be timed using the electronic timing system. Chips/Tags will be attached to the race bib number you will receive in your race pack. Do not remove this tag from your bib number. No Tag attached. No Time.

Water/Drink Stations

Water Stations will be provided at the start, every 2.5km, 5km, 7.5km, 10km, 12.5km, 15km, 17.5km, 20km and at the finish.

Sponges/Refreshment

Sponges will be provided after the following stations on the marathon route: 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km and at finish.

Toilets

Toilets will be provided after the following stations on the Marathon route: 2.5km, 5km, 7.5km, 10km, 12.5km, 15km, 17.5km, 20km and at the finish.

Medical

An Ambulance and medical station will be available approximately 100 meters after each main drink station on the Marathon route at 5km, 10km, 15km, 20km and at the finish.

Entertainment

Top artistes, live bands and a selection of other activities will be available at the Marathon Finish point throughout the day to entertain the participants and spectators. Food and Beverage facilities will also be available at the Marathon Finish point.

Routes & Maps.

Volunteering.

Volunteers interested in participating have the opportunity to offer their services on the day of the Race and during the preparation period of the event.

Volunteering is a unique life experience that is rewarding for everyone without exception. Volunteers’ talents, enthusiasm and time are priceless because of their impact and contribution to the success of this unique athletic event.

Registration Date to join the Volunteers’ Team shall be announced shortly.

Volunteer Roles
We will have a wide variety of volunteer roles available for the 2023 Onitsha City Marathon.
Roles will be allocated based on application, qualifications, areas of specialization and interest. There will be roles for volunteers at the Start point, Finish point (a team to welcome the masses and elites crossing the Finish line), as well as the Exhibition areas or as part of the Medical Team.

Volunteer Opportunities

• Medical
• Pre-race
• Race Day: Transportation
• Race Day: Start Area
• Race Day: Course Marshal
• Race Day: Drink Stations
• Race Day: Finish Area

A full list of roles and information on each role will be available soon.

Volunteer Briefing Information
A briefing evening will be held close to the date of the event for Onitsha City Marathon 2023 volunteers.
We will also provide you with a Volunteer Briefing Manual containing lots of important information such as key timings, dos and don’ts, emergency protocols, maps and lots more!

Also, briefing notes for each volunteer role will be sent out to all volunteers latest two weeks to the event.

REGISTER TO VOLUNTEER

For more Information, send an email to volunteer@onitshacitymarathon.com

Medical Advice.

Medical Problems
Discuss any medical problems with your general practitioner (GP). This advice supplements anything he or she says. See your GP if you have a problem that makes it a risk to run in a marathon. We are happy for people with serious medical conditions to run, but only with your GP’s agreement and if you send details of your condition and the treatment you are undergoing. Please send these to me and quote your running number when you know it. Address the envelope to the Marathon Office, mark it ‘Confidential’ and send it to:- Medical Manager Onitsha City Marathon, 19a Regina Nwankwu Avenue Onitsha, Anambra State, Nigeria.
If you have a medical problem that may lead to you having a blackout, such as fits or diabetes, put a cross on the front of your number and write the details, especially your medication, on the reverse of the number.

Cardiac Events & Screening
Runners may very well be unaware when they have a heart problem. Their condition would have been detected if medical advice had been sought and relevant tests carried out. A ‘fitness test’ is not sufficient to detect these problems. If you have a family history of heart disease or sudden death, or you have symptoms of heart disease i.e. chest pain or discomfort on exertion, sudden shortness of breath or rapid palpitations, see your GP who can arrange for you to have a proper cardiac assessment. Such an assessment may not be instantly available, but continuing to run with these symptoms may shorten your running career catastrophically!

Training
Muscular aches and pains occur most commonly after an increase in training. Training should be increased gradually so that you do not suffer prolonged exhaustion and intersperse days of heavy mileage with one or two days of lighter training, so that your body can replace its fuel (muscle glycogen). Rest days are also important.
If you have flu, a feverish cold or a tummy bug, do not train until you have fully recovered. Then start gently and build up gradually. Do not attempt to catch up on lost mileage after illness or injury – this may cause further damage or illness. To reduce injury risk, train on soft surfaces when you can, especially on easy training days. Vary routes, do not always use the same shoes and run on differing cambers, hills, etc. Always face oncoming traffic, especially in the dark.
PLEASE NOTE: If you cannot run 15 miles comfortably one month before the marathon, you will not manage it in safety or enjoy it. Please do not run on this occasion.

Fluids
Fluids lost in sweat must be replaced otherwise your body becomes dehydrated and less efficient. Alcoholic drinks are dehydrating. A pint of beer produces more than a pint of urine; spirits have a worse effect. Take plenty of non-alcoholic drinks, especially before the race and in hot weather. Thirst is a poor guide to how much you need. Drink enough to keep your urine copious and a pale straw colour. Drink plenty of liquids after training, especially long runs, and drink during races, especially in the first half of a marathon. Practice drinking during longer training runs. Drink plenty of fluids and reduce alcohol intake in the two days before the race.

Diet
Eat what suits you! Large doses of supplementary vitamins and minerals (such as iron) are not essential and produce no benefit if you are on a good mixed diet, but additional vitamin C in small doses is reasonable when fresh fruit and vegetables are in short supply.
Training helps you to sustain a high level of muscle glycogen if you eat a lot of carbohydrate. If you can, eat within two hours of your long runs and the marathon. This helps replace the muscle glycogen quickly and speeds recovery.

Carbo Loading
Do not change your normal diet drastically in the last week before the marathon, but decrease your intake of protein (meat) and increase your intake of carbohydrate (pasta, bread, potatoes, cereals, rice and sweet things), especially for the last three days when you should also be markedly reducing your training. This loads the muscle with glycogen. Unless you reduce your protein intake you will not eat enough carbohydrate. (Not all runners are helped by first depleting carbohydrate with a long run and low carbo diet and then loading – this can make your muscles very heavy).

Clothing
When training in the dark, be seen. Wear white clothing and reflective flashes or bandoliers.
Many runners seek medical treatment for blisters at the start. They had either been training too hard in the final two weeks with ill-fitting shoes, or they had worn a new pair of shoes for the last long training run. Use shoes you know from experience will not give you blisters.

On The Day
Do not run if you feel unwell or have just been unwell, even if you are raising money for charity. Most medical emergencies occur in people who have been unwell but do not wish to miss the event. If you feel feverish, have been vomiting, have had severe diarrhea or any chest pains, or otherwise feel unwell, it is unfair to you, your family, your sponsoring charity and the marathon support staff to risk serious illness and become a medical emergency. You are unlikely to do yourself justice. There are many other marathons.
If it is hot, wear loose mesh clothing, start slowly and, if possible, run in the shade. Start the race well hydrated (urine looks pale) and drink whenever you can, especially in the first half of the race when you may not feel thirsty, as you lose a lot of fluid insensibly. This will help you feel better late in the race and may prevent cramp. Cramp is most common in runners who have not trained sufficiently or are dehydrated. Do not gulp large volumes of liquid during or after the race. It is possible to become ill from drinking too much, too quickly.

At The Finish
Do not stand about getting cold. Keep walking, especially if you feel dizzy, and drinking to replace lost liquid. Go to the baggage area as soon as you can, use the baggage system, change into warm, dry clothing, and then go to the reunion area.
Keep on drinking and have something to eat. Some runners feel faint more than half-an-hour after finishing the race, often because they have taken insufficient fluid at the finish and/or not eaten anything.

And Finally…
Train sensibly. Follow this simple advice and you will probably not need medical aid. Medical aid posts are located about 50-100 m past the main drink stations and after the finish line. If you drop out, go to an aid station.
Keep this advice and refer to it nearer the day and on marathon eve.

Transportation to Onitsha

Closest Airport

Anambra International Cargo Passenger Airport, Umuleri
Asaba International Airport
Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos
Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja

Tour.

• All Saints Cathedral
• Holy Trinity Cathedral
• Ogbunike Caves
• Onitsha Mall
• Palace of the Obi of Onitsha
• River Niger
• Rojenny Tourist Village
• ZIKS Mausoleum

Hotels.

• Olive Guest House
• SOPROM Hotel and Suites
• Dolly Hills Hotel
• The Violets Hotel & Apartments
• Royal City Dubai Hotel & Suites
• Nicholla Hotel & Suites
• Top Rank Hotels

Training

Beginners ‘Get You Round’ Programme

WK

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

30 mins easy

Rest

45 mins easy

Rest

30 mins easy

Rest

1 hour run/walk

2

40 mins easy

Rest

50 mins easy

Rest

40 mins inc 10×2 mins fast

Rest/Jog

1.25 hour easy

3

30 mins easy

Rest

1 hour easy

Rest

40 mins inc 6×2 mins fast

Rest/Jog

1.5 hour very easy

4

30 mins easy

Rest

1 hour easy

Rest

30 mins easy

Rest

1 hour run/walk

5

30 mins easy

1 hour

Rest

15 mins w/u

Rest

30 mins easy

1.75 hours

6

40 mins easy

Rest

70 mins easy

Fast w/d

W/u 5×3 mins, fast w/d

Rest

2 hours easy

7

20 mins

W/u 15×9 secFast w/d

Rest

Rest

Rest

30 mins faster

2.25 hours very easy

8

30 mins easy

40 mins easy

1 hour steady

80 mins easy

30 mins easy

Rest

2.5 hours or 3 hours run/walk

9

Rest

30 mins

75 mins easy

Rest

30 mins easy

Rest/ Jog

Rest

10

Rest

40 mins easy

1.5 hours very easy

Rest

1 hour

Rest

2 hours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11

Rest

30 mins easy

1 hour

Rest

1 hour

Rest

1 hour

12

Rest

Rest

40 mins

Rest

Rest

1.5 hours easy.

Half

Marathon

 

Speed Play: Training involves changing the speed at which you run throughout your training session.

Super Slow: Really, really slow, so slow it hardly seems worth putting your kit on.

Easy Jog: No pressure, just loosening up or a recovery run.
Slow Still a slow pace but a little faster than an ‘easy jog’.

Comfortable: You can chat easily to your training partner and keep the pace consistent.

Steady: Even-paced run where you can chat in short sentences.

Brisk: Slightly breathless, not easy to hold any conversation with your training partner.

Hard: You certainly know you’re working, conversation is definitely out.

W/U: Warm up.

W/D: Warm down.

For General Runners.

Experienced Runners Training Programme

This programme has been specially put together by fitness experts, nutritionists and other marathon experts to provide experienced runners with a training schedule that begins in JUNE and builds up over the four months leading up to Race Day!

WK

MON

TUE

WED

THU

FRI

SAT

SUN

1

Speed Play, ideally off-road

Rest

60 mins easy

Rest

80 mins steady pace

45 mins steady run

Rest

2

3 x 8-10 mins hard, 3 mins recovery between efforts, with warm-up and cool down

Easy 25 mins jog

50 mins steady pace

Rest

90 mins easy

45 mins easy

Rest

3

Rest

60 mins steady

35 mins easy

Rest

100-110 mins taken very easy

30 mins easy

50 mins hilly circuit with efforts on hills

4

3 x 8-10 mins hard, 3 mins recovery between efforts, with warm-up and cool down

35 mins jog

50 mins steady

Rest

50 mins fast pace

Rest

35 mins easy

5

60 mins off-road and hilly Speed Play session

Rest

45 mins easy

Rest

120 mins slow

25 mins recovery jog

45 mins steady

6

Alternate 3 min hard bursts with 3 min of easy jogging

Rest

60 mins comfortable pace

Rest

120-130 mins slow

24 mins jog

45 mins steady

7

60 mins Speed Play with long duration efforts

Rest

50 mins steady

25 mins easy jog

90 mins good pace with long warm-up and cool-down

25 mins very easy

45 mins steady

8

4 x 8-10 mins hard, 2.5 mins recovery between efforts

45 mins easy

70 mins at race pace

Rest

145 mins

Rest

45 mins steady

9

4 x 8-10 mins hard, 2.5 mins recovery between efforts

45 mins easy

70 mins at race pace

Rest

145 mins

Rest

45 mins easy

10

Rest

75 mins off- road Speed Play

45 mins easy

Rest

160 mins taken easy

25 mins jog recovery

45 mins steady

11

2 x 15 mins hard, 4 mins recovery between efforts

45 mins steady

25 mins easy jog

Rest

180 mins slow

Rest

50 mins steady

12

50 mins relaxed Speed Play

45 mins steady

25 mins easy jog

20 mins easy jog

10k race

Rest

45 mins steady

13

4 x 15 mins hard, 2.5 mins recovery between efforts

35 mins slow

50 mins steady

Rest

200 mins slow

25 mins easy recovery

45 mins steady

14

60 mins easy Speed Play

35 mins jog

45 mins at marathon race pace

Rest

130 mins steady

Rest

50 mins steady

15

35 mins brisk pace + warm-up and cool-down

45 mins steady

Rest

25 mins easy

50 mins steady

5 mins easy off-road

Easy 25 min jog or rest

16

30 mins very easy

Rest or 25 mins easy

5 mins easy off-road

Rest

 

15 mins very, very easy jog

RACE DAY

Warm-up, 10 mins at race pace, cool-down

 

Speed Play: Training involves changing the speed at which you run throughout your training session.

Super Slow: Really, really slow, so slow it hardly seems worth putting your kit on.

Easy Jog: No pressure, just loosening up or a recovery run.
Slow Still a slow pace but a little faster than an ‘easy jog’.

Comfortable: You can chat easily to your training partner and keep the pace consistent.

Steady: Even-paced run where you can chat in short sentences.

Brisk: Slightly breathless, not easy to hold any conversation with your training partner.

Hard: You certainly know you’re working, conversation is definitely out.

W/U: Warm up.

W/D: Warm down.

Nutrition .

The Onitsha City Marathon may be months and many training miles away but as far as your diet is concerned, the preparations for race day can start now. The good news is that you probably won’t have to make drastic changes to your current eating habits; there is no need to buy expensive supplements or special foods.

On Your Marks
As you embark on your training programme you should take stock of your current diet habits. Remember that food is the fuel that will help to ensure your body makes it through the miles of training in the months ahead. Flunk on your diet and fluid intake and you risk feeling tired and run-down. Use this checklist to make sure you are giving yourself the right start.

Are You Eating Enough?
You should aim to get around 60 per cent of all your daily calories from foods which are high in carbohydrate including bread, pasta, potatoes, rice, lentils, fruits and vegetables. Unlike protein and fat, carbohydrate is stored in your muscles so that it is readily available for energy when you are running.
Research shows that most athletes tend to perform better if they eat smaller, high carbohydrate meals more often rather than three square meals a day. Experiment to find an eating pattern that suits your running.

Should You Be Eating Before You Run?
Some runners claim to perform perfectly well on an empty stomach, but it is fair to say that most of the scientific evidence is against them. Eating 2-4 hours before you exercise means that some of the gastric juices in your stomach will be absorbed, leaving you feeling less hungry when you set off.

Are You Drinking Enough?
Water is a vital part of your diet. It helps get rid of heat through the skin by sweating, it enables your body to get rid of waste products and toxins and also helps to transport glucose in the blood to your muscles so that you can exercise.
As a runner you need more than the eight glasses of water recommended for people who do no exercise. Try sipping on water throughout the day and eat plenty of high water-content foods such as tomatoes, soups and cucumber.

Get Set
As race day gets closer, you should also begin to fine-tune some aspects of your diet. In the 2-3 months before the marathon, you need to develop an eating plan geared specifically towards enhancing your performance.

Perfect Your Pre-Race Meal
Research has shown that the ideal meal to eat on the morning of a race should be high in carbohydrate with a little low-fat protein to make it more digestible. Something like lightly scrambled egg on toast is ideal. But ultimately it is a matter of personal choice and you should be trying out as many pre-run meals as possible in training.

Energy Drink
If you are planning to use the on-course sports drink, during the marathon, it is vital that you practice with various products during training.

Are you dehydrated?
A dehydrated runner will end up going nowhere fast and it doesn’t happen only on hot days. Dehydration can be the cumulative effect of drinking too little. A simple way to test if you are drinking enough is to check the colour of your urine. If it is bright yellow, it may have become concentrated with metabolic wastes because you aren’t drinking enough.

Go!
A few days before the race and there is still plenty to do. You should concentrate on eating a high carbohydrate diet so that your muscles are constantly re-fuelled. And there are other rules too. Don’t try anything new. If you are handed free samples of snacks when you go to collect your number from the exhibition, save them until after the race. You may find that they cause gastro-intestinal upset.

Race Morning
There are no hard and fast rules here, only to leave enough time for your pre-race meal to digest so that you don’t feel uncomfortably full. In general a large meal takes around four hours to digest, a smaller meal up to two hours. Do not be tempted by a hotel breakfast or try anything new at this stage. Drink plenty of fluids in the 2-3 hours before you start and a small cup of water about ten minutes before the gun goes.

Drinks to Avoid
Drinking tea or coffee will not harm your performance but bear in mind that both contain caffeine, a diuretic, and should therefore be drunk in moderation. Avoid alcohol which can promote dehydration and fizzy drinks which can cause bloating.

So You Think It’s All Over?
What you eat and drink after the marathon influences how quickly you recover.

Recovery Fluids
Try fresh fruit juice which will supply carbohydrate, fluid and electrolytes or body salts – dilute with water if it tastes too acidic. Water will replace fluids as well as any commercial drink.

Eat Within Four Hours
As a guideline you should aim to eat 0.5 grams of carbohydrate for every pound of body weight 2-3 hours after you finish to top up your depleted glycogen stores.

Rest
Yes, you deserve it! A hard race will deplete your body’s stores of glycogen and your muscles will need at least two days rest coupled with lots of carbohydrate foods. This, of course, means you have plenty of time too.

Training Tips.

After your warm-up, try running at an easy training pace, throwing in bursts of speed for various distances throughout the run. Vary the speed and times of the speed sections, from as short as 15 seconds to as long as 2-3 minutes. Between these bursts, allow yourself enough recovery time to match roughly 2/3 of the effort time.

As we get older, the need to do a proper warm-up and cool-down is paramount. Since our muscles become brittle and lose their elasticity as we grow older, the chances of injury increase dramatically. By taking 10 to 15 minutes to thoroughly warm-up your muscles before a workout, you could save yourself from months of time off due to injury. Stretching is important, but never stretch cold muscles. Before you begin your stretching routine jog lightly to warm-up your muscles.

There are no hard and fast rules as to how to run as everyone has their own style. However, here are a few pointers to help improve your performance:
Head – Look straight ahead and focus on a point 10 to 15 meters in front. Try to run in a straight line.
Body – Keep your body upright with your back straight. Try not to lean, even when running up hill.
Arms – Let your arms swing naturally and in rhythm with your legs while loosely cupping your hands.
Feet – Naturally, the ball of the foot lands first, followed by the heel and the toes push off a fraction after that.

On an average day we need to drink about two liters of fluid a day to be properly hydrated. During training you will need more than this as we lose on average 500-1000ml of fluid per hour. If you exercise while dehydrated, your temperature can rise quickly and cause heatstroke, which is potentially fatal. The colour of your urine is probably the easiest indicator of fluid loss. If it’s pale and plentiful you’re well hydrated, whereas if it’s dark and sparse, you need more fluid. A loss of just 2% in your body weight may affect your ability to exercise and a 4% loss can cause exhaustion. When you are competing, for every 1% drop in body weight there’s about a 5% drop in performance.

Every runner has experienced a stitch – that sudden sharp pain in the side of the upper abdomen at the base of the ribs. The pain is caused by a spasm of the diaphragm. A stitch will usually go away quickly after slowing down or stopping. However, you can often make it go away by bringing your breathing into careful control during running.

Concentrate on belly breathing, pushing your belly out when you breathe in and relaxing it as you breathe out. Take deep breaths on the intake, and exhale suddenly, even noisily. To get the diaphragm to contract in rhythm with your steps, try to inhale and exhale as you land on your left foot. This can help prevent spasms by encouraging the diaphragm to bounce along in sync with your stride.

Don’t skimp on your stretching. Stretching is vital and should only be done after a full warm-up. Muscles are susceptible to injury if stretched when cold. Think of them like a cold metal bar. Try and bend it cold and it will crack, splinter or even break. However, if you warm the bar up it bends without too much effort. Cold ligaments (which stabilize joints) and tendons (which attach muscles to bones) can only be stretched when fully warmed-up.

Carry out ‘body scans’ during your running sessions. All you need to do is cast your mind’s eye from head to toe, looking for any signs of unnecessary tension or tightness, any muscles that could do with a stretch, and any joints that could do with loosening up. You should also try a smile – it’s impossible to be tense and smile at the same time! Try to carry out a body scan every ten to 15 minutes, to ensure you are as relaxed as possible and not wasting energy.

Most beginners start off by running around the block or down roads by their home but ideal places are parks, running tracks or on short cut grass. Beginners may suffer from common aches and pains such as ’shin-splints’ as a result of running on hard surfaces. If you have to run on busy roads, make sure you run facing the traffic so you can see cars coming at you.

It is vital that you drink plenty of fluid to avoid compromising your health. To succeed, you need to plan your drinking strategies and get into the habit of drinking, so that your body can gradually adapt to increased fluid intakes. Don’t leave it to chance; take your beverage choice with you. It is unlikely that you will drink too much water – not drinking enough is usually the problem. The only time drinking plain water may cause a problem is if you’re sweating very heavily for a prolonged period of time. In this situation, a sports drink containing sodium would be better than plain water to prevent low blood sodium levels (hypernatremia).

If you’re having a bad day and feel that another training session would be detrimental then don’t go. Training when you’re feeling unwell or having a stressful time at work for example, is counterproductive. This is not to be confused with that ‘I can’t be bothered, because I feel tired’ feeling!

If you can, enter a few races before the big day. Start with maybe a 10k and then a half marathon. This will help you get used to running in the ‘event environment’ and help you with things like taking water from drinks stations and the pre-race build up. The bigger the race the better, although the first one should probably be a smaller one of a few hundred runners. Some of the big half marathons can be a great learning curve as they can have fields of many thousands and give you a real feel for what it’ll be like on marathon day.

If you have a bad run, don’t worry about it. You’re always going to have days when your legs feel dead or the run doesn’t go well. If this happens just cut the run short or take it easy the next day. Stay positive, in the knowledge that you’ll always have more good days than bad days.

Cross train, the fitter you get, the better your tolerance will be to cold weather running because your capacity to perform will have increased and that will generate more heat.

However, if you are truly sick of the cold the cross-training options are plentiful. You could run on a treadmill, swim, cycle, stair climb, and the list goes on. To roughly work out the running equivalent of the exercise you choose, divide the time spent cross-training by the pace you would have run at the same effort level. For example, 30 minutes of cross-training is equal to about three miles at 10 minutes per mile running. It is important to remember that it is indeed possible to continue your outdoor running throughout the cold winter months and this is the best training for the race.

Hills are one of the most versatile of all training tools. Not only can they be used to cover all the energy pathways, they also have great variety and can be used in developing the runner’s technique. Incorporating hill work into your weekly training will help strengthen your legs and ankles. If you live in an area without hills, consider using a treadmill or stadium stairs to simulate uphill running.

Running in the rain – There’s really not much to running in the rain – the hardest part is getting out the door. However, here are a few tips:

Be seen! Wear reflective clothing – the glimpse of the reflective glow could be the only warning a driver has that you are there.

Slow down! Shorten your stride and stay relaxed.

Stay warm! Staying dry will be impossible but staying warm won’t be. Get the right gear and avoid hypothermia.

Don’t spin! Don’t be tempted to spin dry your trainers! Artificial heat sources contribute to the breakdown of high-tech shoe rubbers and glues.

It is really important to ease back and rest for any race, otherwise you won’t get the best out of yourself and you could under perform. The final week before race day should be a gradual decline in mileage and an increase in rest, recovery and sleep. Not everybody likes to have a complete rest day before they race but it is important to ease back so your body does recover and physically gets ready to perform to new heights. Work backwards from race day and plan your last four to five days like a military operation. Arrange your travel and kit well before race day, pack your bags the day before and make sure you get a couple of early nights to bank some sleep.

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