Belfast City Marathon Top Training Tips

Celebrating its landmark 40th anniversary this year, the Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon will welcome more than 16,000 participants when it returns on Sunday 1 May 2022. With a full lineup of events to suit all levels of fitness including the Marathon and Wheelchair Race, Team Relay and 8 Mile Walk, preparations are underway to get race-ready.

Ciara Mageean 01

Warming up for the race, Olympic champion middle-distance runner and Lidl Northern Ireland Sport for Good ambassador Ciara Mageean shares her top marathon prep tips for novices and running maestros alike.

  1. PLAN AHEAD – It might sound obvious, but preparation is key. From race-day shoes, clothing and fuel, it’s important to have everything you need to assist you in a successful marathon.
  1. FUEL UP – Preparation of your pre-race trails and hydration should be rehearsed thoroughly in training to ensure a smooth run on the big day. Meals should be carefully planned – knowing what will settle well in your stomach and when to eat is key.
  1. WEAR IN YOUR SHOES – Never change your race-day gear or shoes close to the match. Comfort is essential across the 26.2 miles.
  1. REST UP – Nerves are a necessary evil when it comes to marathon running, so don’t stress if you aren’t able to sleep the night before the race. As long as you are getting adequate sleep and rest periods in the weeks leading up to the marathon, all will be okay.
  1. STICK TO YOUR PACE – Finding your pacing group is really important. Pacers are skilled and will keep a steady pace. Find your group and stick with them.
  1. HAVE A POSITIVE MINDSET – Although physical preparation is essential, mental preparation is vital to ensure you triumph on race day. Creating scenarios to overcome is a great way to ensure your mind is confidently over matters on the day. For example, think of a situation like, “I feel amazing and fly through the race on cloud nine” and an opposing scenario such as, “I feel heavy, sluggish and the weather is dreadful”. Then, prepare for how you will work through the less-ideal situations, it doesn’t need to be exhaustive, but it is always best to have a run-through.
  1. BREAK IT DOWN – This can help the 26.2 miles or 42km feel less daunting. Breaking the race down into 5km blocks, or using landmarks to aim for, gives you a target which you can then reward yourself for mentally. It’s a simple perk to improve your endurance.
  1. LUBRICATE – Many novice runners or first-time marathoners don’t consider this but it’s vital to lubricate to prevent rubbing and chafing. Believe it or not, nipple guards are a thing and can be a lifesaver across a long course.
  1. BE AWARE – Always be aware of your surroundings. Potholes and speedbumps are ever-more present and even top marathoners have been known to take tumbles.
  1. ENJOY THE RACE! – Most importantly, take in your surroundings and revel in the atmosphere. Your body got you all the way around, so make sure you refuel, with a nutritious snack post-run. On race day, Lidl Northern Ireland will be stationed throughout the course supplying fresh fruit as this year’s official ‘Fresh Fruit Supplier’ to the Mash Direct Belfast City Marathon. Refuel, recharge and revel in your achievement. Good luck to all runners, relay racers and walkers!

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Leanne is the editor in chief of BELFAST.CO.UK.