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Preparing for marathon race day with Paula Radcliffe MBE

There is perhaps no better person to share tips on how to prepare for a marathon than Paula Radcliffe, who set and held the world marathon record for 17 years. If you are training for a marathon or aiming for a PB on your long run, our latest episode of From Paper to Podium is a valuable pep-talk on training and fuelling. This blog post brings you the highlights from Paula on how to prepare to run your best marathon race yet.

Coping mechanisms for hard runs: Practice makes perfect

Even Paula has to contend with difficult spells during long runs. There will be at least one or two hard patches during a marathon where you may feel like you might hit a physiological or psychological wall. Handle these by building up coping mechanisms during training to rely on during a race.

The name of Paula’s game is practice. If you learn to push through difficult patches during training runs, it will be easier to do that during crunch time on race day.


Paula has a simple way of overcoming mental barriers: counting from one to 100 in her head. Focus only on putting one foot in front of the other and about what number comes next. Measure how many times you can count to 100 while running one mile at your marathon pace. This helps you to know how far along you are and to break up your run into manageable chunks.


For a Sunday marathon race, start preparing with added fuel on Thursday evening. Paula prefers doing this with carbohydrate drinks rather than extra food, as it is less likely to cause your stomach any discomfort.
Here is an example carb-loading plan using SiS GO Isotonic Energy Gels. Add one gel, the same as the one you will consume during your race, to your food intake at the following times:

  • Thursday evening
  • Friday morning
  • Friday afternoon
  • Saturday morning
  • Saturday afternoon
  • Sunday morning (race day)

Prepare the energy drinks you will consume during the race to increase in concentration as the race goes on. Professor James Morton recommends consuming 60-90g of carbohydrate per hour from a mixture of fluids such as Beta Fuel and easy to consume energy gels like SiS Go Electrolyte and SiS Go Isotonic.
In the two to three days before a race, you should be aiming for 8g of carbohydrate per kilogram of body mass. A 75kg runner should be eating 600g of carbs on Friday and Saturday. You can increase your intake to this amount both with energy drinks and with food. Refuelling with carbohydrate drinks also ensures you are well-hydrated from the moment you start running.


Paula preaches practising every element of race day, including how to pick up hydration bottles while running.

  • Practice eating according to your race weekend nutrition plan
  • Practice drinking while running at pace
  • Practice taking a drink every 3.5 miles
  • Practice fuelling with carb drinks or gels in training to work out what is best for you
  • Practice your whole pre-marathon routine

When you have done it before, it should be easy to get right.
Our handy Marathon Training Bundle contains all of the key products you need to fuel your training, including GO Isotonic Energy Gels, GO Hydro tablets and more.
Why not share your marathon training experiences with us on social media?

Written By

Julia Deufel - content writer and consultant

Julia runs her own marketing consultancy, working with businesses and non-profits in education, nutrition, fitness and the arts. She also teaches a blend of HIIT and Pilates she developed and is an avid indoor cyclist. Julia is an advocate of effective altruism and believes in the power of sport to change lives.