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Ten tips for marathon runners

Martín Fiz, who won the marathon at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, in training.
Martín Fiz, who won the marathon at the 1995 World Championships in Gothenburg, in training. / SUR
  • Former long-distance runner Martín Fiz shares his recommendations ahead of the Malaga Marathon on 10 December

After the downpour which rained off last year's event, the Malaga Marathon is back and better than ever. The marathon has a new sponsor, Zurich Insurance Group, and an ambassador on board who is well known by Costa residents.

Martín Fiz is back as one of the famous faces of the marathon. Fiz is a former long-distance runner and star of men's athletics. In his career he has come first in nine marathons, medalled twice in the World Championships, and has one gold medal from the European Championships.

This year he has an extra accolade: only one month ago the two-time Olympian became the first athlete in history to win five out of the six major world marathons, in any category (in this case, the over 50-years-old category).

On 10 December, Malaga will become the ideal place to find your feet before taking on the ultimate marathon challenge in London in 2018. Fiz has a few tips to help deal with the demanding 42-kilometre (26.2-mile) race through the streets of Malaga.

Before

1) Take breaks.“People tend not to take breaks. In fact they often over train, especially during the final few days and then they're very tired. You have to find a balance, train for three to four months then take a break for the last week. For a healthy person who is used to doing exercise, four months of preparation is plenty.”

2) Train continuously. “Continuous running is the most important thing, increasing the distance every week. Doing this, your body will be able to go faster without you even realising. Muscle-building exercises are important to strengthen your body and support it. For this, repetition is more important than weight.”

3) Warm up. “This can help avoid tearing muscles. I recommend 15 minutes of easy exercises to warm up and stretch your quadriceps, calves, and lower back... the areas that you will strain when running.”

4) Choose your footwear wisely. “I recommend trainers with lots of cushioning, although at the start they can slow your movement, in the long run, during the last few kilometres, you need this cushioning. Use trainers which you have run in before, ones that are broken in.”

5) Incorporate more carbohydrates into your diet. “For two or three days before, massively increase the amount of carbohydrates you eat. This is your fuel, it's what you burn. Initially, you might feel heavier, but after about 20 to 40 minutes your body will respond to the fuel and you'll feel lighter.”

During

6) Don't try anything new. “Everything that you do during the marathon, you should have tested during training: the energy gel, your trainers, how much water you bring... the small details are so important. You can't turn up without experience.”

7) Find your rhythm. “You have to know your rhythm and adapt to the best one for you. You could even join a group that you think can benefit you - try not to do it alone. The thrill of speeding up a little can make you lose your focus and you pick up a rhythm which is too quick and won't help you in the end.”

8) Keep your nerves under control. “In these competitions stage fright is inevitable but you have to rein it in a bit. You need to know how to control your emotions, be cautious and mentally prepare yourself for the distance beforehand.”

9) Drink little and often. “You have to drink little by little from the start, around the 5km mark. Malaga is at sea level and the humidity level is quite high. Although it's a good temperature, humidity makes us sweat and lose liquid.”

After

10) Rest and mentally prepare yourself for what comes next. “I think the worst thing is finishing feeling overworked, strained, and stiff. Even if you want to keep training, the best thing to do after a marathon is properly rest. The days following, those who have done well will want to keep on improving and those who haven't done so well will want to show that they can improve.”