As the clock ticks down towards this year's O'Keefe Challenge, we caught up with defending Champion and 2006 World Duathlon Champion, Leon Griffin, to gather his five top tips for race day:
O'Keefe Challenge: What do you eat before a race?
Leon: I keep it pretty simple around race day.. and definitely don't try anything new! I stick to Spag Bol, Pizza or a chicken and rice the night before, and toast and coffee the morning of the race.
OKC: What do you do to tackle dehydration?
Leon: I start hydrating ahead of time, and drink more than usual the day before a race. I'll be consciously sipping a sports drink throughout the day and evening.
On the morning of the race I'll have another sports drink, and then I'll consciously take something from every aid station and have someone pass me drinks on the course and have someone supporting me at the event, too.
OKC: How do you prepare?
Leon: It might be a little late at this stage, but I subscribe to the 'practice makes perfect' adage. If it's an important event to me I'll try practice over the same course, distance, pacing, eating pre- and during- race, test out all of my equipment ahead of time to minimise any 'surprises' on race day.
OKC: How do you pace yourself over the full marathon distance?
Leon: This can be particularly hard to judge if you haven't done much practice at 'race pace', but the general rule is that your pace should feel way 'too easy' at the start of the event if you want to still be going strong at the other end!!!
OKC: How do you deal with the mental challenge of the full marathon distance?
Leon: Turning up on race morning feeling physically fresh I find goes a long way to helping you prepare mentally. This might be though a very easy week or so leading in where you just do some light activity and not completely nothing.
If you've put the training in, and have let your body recover from that training then you will have a lot less anxiety come race day.
During the race itself, I find it helps to break a marathon into four parts in my head:
Part 1/ The first 10k (the warmup),
Part 2/ 21.1k halfway (everything from here is closer to finish than start),
Part 3/ The 3rd quarter (or until feeling the pinch around 32k) and,
Part 4/ The home stretch: 'You're pulling out all the stops' out until you hit that finish line!
The O'Keefe Challenge community wishes everyone standing on a start line this April the best of luck.
We wish Leon the best of luck as he competes in the Wenlock Olympian Games later this year as part of his prize for winning the 2018 O'Keefe Challenge Marathon age graded prize.