Look for Marginal Gains to Achieve your PB
If you’ve set yourself the goal of a personal best (PB) in 2022, it may be worth thinking about marginal gains. Obviously you have to do the correct training to support the goal but sometimes a few extra little things can make a difference to the end result.
Sir David Brailsford, formerly performance director of British Cycling famously brought the concept of marginal gains to people’s attention. It’s the theory that small yet significant improvements can lead to bigger results.
So where could there be marginal gains to be had in running?
Based on decades of recreational running, these are the ones that have worked for us.
Consider taking beetroot shots
There are many theories about what runners should or shouldn’t eat before a race. The one we’ve found to help especially for endurance races is beetroot shots. Beet It Sport (Nitrate 400) has been tested at 200 universities worldwide and found to have significant benefits for endurance sport. One shot a day is sufficient, but you should stop taking them up to six days before your race.
Rest your legs
It’s tempting to keep doing hard sessions right up until a race, simply to prove to yourself that you’re ready for the challenge. In our experience, nothing good will come from this approach. We’ve found that giving yourself a proper break from running for a good 4 days will make you feel like a ‘caged tiger’ on race day and help you achieve your PB.
Get good sleep in the week before
Sometimes it’s impossible to get a good 8 hours sleep the night before your race, especially if you suffer from pre-race nerves. We’ve found it’s more important to get some decent sleep during the run up to the race. Make sure it's a week when you stay in and limit the amount of alcohol you drink.
Warm up properly
Time spent warming up is time very well spent. All runners are different but personally we find as we get older we need to spend longer warming up. We recommend at least 10 minutes gentle jogging followed by some dynamic drills such as high knees, skips, bum kicks and open-the-gate exercises.
Find the most direct line
It’s surprising how many runners finish a race and find their Garmin has recorded a distance longer than the official race. I learnt this to my cost at the Copenhagen Marathon when I ended up running a good 43+ kilometers. Then shortly before Christmas at a Dorney Lake Half Marathon I ran closely behind a pacer. It was fascinating to see how he saved time by following a very direct line along a weaving path alongside Dorney Lake. However, if you want to find the most direct line, you really concentrate rather than letting the mind drift.
Consider a soft water flask and/or gels
Rather than stopping at water stations along the course, consider taking a soft water flask and/or liquid energy gels. Not only does this mean that you won’t lose time, it also means you’re more likely to retain your running rhythm.
Double tie your laces
Maybe not truly a marginal gain, but worth mentioning. Double tie your laces to avoid having to stop.
Clock watch as you approach the finish line
It's worth clock watching in the last 250 meters before the finish. It can be super annoying to find you’ve missed a PB by a few seconds. All the more so, when the recorded time ends with a :01.
Have you discovered any marginal gains we’ve missed? If so, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear from you.