More Random Thoughts

Notes > The race > More Random Thoughts

by Mark Pierce

More Random Thoughts

Mark finished again in 2004 and has since offered more thoughts.

Plan to have 2 days off work after the race. This gives time to begin healing wounds, rest injuries, re-hydrate and eat nourishing foods to aid your recovery.

Consider booking accommodation near the Finish prior to race day. Sitting in a car/bus/train for several hours when you and your crew are exhausted, is dangerous in terms of road safety and detrimental to the recovery process which should begin at the finish line (if not before!)

Over the years I have learned where blisters tend to form. Now I tape each toe from bottom to tip and then cover the tape in Vaseline. I also put Compede on the usual hotspots. I've not had blisters using this method. This year I covered my trainers with Dubbin to waterproof them -not entirely successful, but it did help. No matter what the weather, your feet will get wet on the GUCR and this, I think, is when blisters start. The longer you can keep them dry, the better for your feet. Stop, dry them and put on dry socks frequently, before blisters start.

The sun can be a big enemy. I think many of us suffer, especially on day two, from sun exposure to the point of mild heat stroke. My advice is to cover your head and neck early. Cover arms and legs in sun cream - most of us don't run fast enough to make overheating a danger with sun cream blocking pores. I have seen many competitors on day two very burnt and dazed. I have been struck on my two finishes by the fact that as you enter London's outskirts the sun is very harsh on your left. So on day two keep your hat on in the afternoon and evening.

Getting to the Finish
On the second day everyone slows (unless you're Claude Hardel!) It's very easy to get into a sort of numb trance whereby you are just walking most of the time. Because most of us walk through the night I think we often still have more aerobic capacity than we imagine for day two We get stuck in the rut of thinking, "I'm so tired. I couldn't possibly run; I'll just keep walking, isn't that enough?" But walking gives an average speed of only 2-3 miles per hour. This condemns you to hours more out on the course than are necessary and consequently hours more exposure to the sun and hours more to endure the pain and fatigue. The best thing to do is get it over with. By running and walking to a set pattern you get home sooner and won't actually be any more tired than if you'd walked the lot. I am convinced that most of us ordinary mortals who walk for hours on day two could make it an easier trip if we throw in more running I was very surprised at how much running I could manage once I decided to

I think this needs to be approached aggressively, pre-planned before you get to Gas Street and part of your race. I offer the following which I can only say worked for me this year. Some of it seems a bit mad, but there you are:

Eat small portions of whatever you fancy frequently.
Drink diluted sports drinks because the standard mixes are too strong for the slower pace. Try to get the balance right. Some finish very dehydrated but some drink too much and are ill through hyponatraemia where the blood stream is diluted by guzzling too much water in an effort to overcome problems that stem from elsewhere. Drink little and often.
Use anti-oxidant vitamin tablets during and post-race. They're supposed to offset oxidative damage to muscles and seem to have worked for me.
Walk down all bridges backwards (carefully) to take the strain from quads and avoid micro-fibre muscle damage that can cause post-race stiffness. Similarly walk up all slopes, there is no point in killing yourself early on.
Avoid buttock chaffing, once you have it you will struggle. It can be excruciating. Avoid it. I use an American product called 'Bag Balm' which is used for lubricating-medicating cows' udders. [We know it as udder cream here, but I think I'll stick with Vaseline.] Whatever you use do it early often and liberally!

Post-race take an integrated approach; hydrate steadily (dilute sports drink thrown in twice daily); get real biomechanical injuries treated; burst and cover blisters; rest often but do some walking 3-4 times a day; take a massage as often as you can (It doesn't need to be professional); stretch.

Finally, be prepared for the post race blues. The terrible sense of deflation can last up to two weeks. It doesn't mean there's anything wrong. Take active steps to cheer yourself up - favourite video, friends, music or book. [I find the best thing is to get back to work, but then I've never had a choice, Dick]