Actor Gul Panag offers last-minute tips to marathon runners

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With the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon (SCMM) just around the corner, this handy guide by actor and running enthusiast Gul Panag will help you prepare for the race. Panag has been running since she was 15, and has been running the Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon since the inaugural event in 2004.

Diet to follow: A few things to keep in mind: include ample vegetables and add proteins such as eggs and paneer and don’t forget to include some good fats like walnuts and avocados, among others. It is recommended not to change your diet dramatically a few days before the race unless you have successfully experimented with the changes before.

What to eat a night before: A common myth is that carb-loading a night before the run is essential. On the contrary, by limiting carbohydrate binges, the body can be trained to burn fat for fuel. This technique, often referred to as Metabolic Efficiency, was introduced by former Olympic team dietician Bob Seebohar.

During the race: Water is your best friend before, during and after the race. Concentrate on keeping yourself hydrated. It’s imperative to monitor your water consumption. Dehydration while running can cause fatigue, overheating of the body, increased heart rate, cramps and so on, that may lead to a bad performance.

Rest before the race: Go to bed early two nights before the race. The first night’s sleep is more important to good running than the night before. If you’ve slept well two nights before the race, you needn’t worry too much about lack of sleep the night before.

Cool gears to carry: Garmin’s Forerunner 920 XT is the gadget that I swear by. This, however, is a high-end professional gadget that is well-suited for serious running. The device tracks your steps, sleep and calories burned all day, giving you a complete picture of your daily activity. For leisure running, mobile apps that talk to you are great. Our phones are something that we carry with us all the time — everywhere we go. Apps are hassle free, inexpensive and help keep you motivated through the run.

Clothes to wear

* Don’t wear anything that is newer than two months. There is no room for experiments going wrong on the day of the marathon. It’s ideal to try out new clothes and shoes during your training runs and then stick with your tried and tested favourites that you know are comfortable.

* Avoid 100 per cent cotton clothes. It is probably one of the most comfortable fabrics to wear on a casual day out; however, it can turn out to be an inconvenience during a run. Once cotton gets wet, it not only holds on to the dampness but also tends to get heavy, which are drawbacks in all weather conditions. In summer, wet fabric can cause your skin to chafe, and during winters it has an added disadvantage of making you feel cold. Opt for technical fabrics like Lycra and DriFit, which keep sweat away. If you’re wearing cotton socks, you’re running a high chance of blistering your feet.

* Layer your clothing. If you find the weather chilly, don’t wear a single layer of thick clothing. This will overheat your body through the course of the race causing it to sweat and leaving you cold. It’s ideal to layer your clothing so that you can pull them off as your start getting warm.

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