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Dr Zafar Iqbal: Marathon March final countdown

Dr Zafar Iqbal is Head of Sports Medicine at Crystal Palace FC. Here is the second instalment of his advice to anyone taking part in Palace for Life Foundation’s Marathon March on Saturday 13 October:

With under a week to go until the day of the Marathon March, it’s just as important as any training that you have done, that you prepare well for the last week. Here are my tips to make sure that you complete the marathon, without too many issues and hopefully you get to enjoy it as well. The key is sticking to your routine as it relates to sleep patterns, recovery and performance.

Dr. Zafar Iqbal with Palace manager Roy Hodgson

Dr. Zafar Iqbal with Palace manager Roy Hodgson


In the final week you should be tapering any training and so maybe only do a couple of walks between 45 – 60 mins early on in the week and a couple of days recovery. Then the days before the final day, a 20 minute walk so that you are fresh and recovered from any of the training.

Food and drink

Do not change your diet too drastically in the last week. Now is not the time to try new foods. Try and have a moderate amount of carbs e.g. pasta and sweet potato leading up to the race. Cut back on fibre during the week. Make sure you are well hydrated and water is adequate for this.

Marathon day kit

Have all your kit prepared the night before and laid out and only wear items that you have worn before and you know you will feel comfortable in. This includes socks and trainers as otherwise you risk getting blisters if wearing new footwear. Find out the likely weather conditions and have appropriate clothes ready.

Know the course

Have a quick overview of the course and know the restrooms, drink stations and have your emergency contact information to hand.

(You can see the route HERE)


It’s very important that you have a few good nights sleep in lead up to the marathon march.


In good time (ideally 2-3 hours) before the start of the walk, have a meal consisting of slow release carbohydrates E.g porridge. Avoid any fibre, alcohol and caffeine.

Make sure you arrive early and give yourself enough time to do any warm up routine that you may have.

Blisters are a concern and so make sure that your feet are dry and any blisters are covered and you are used to your footwear and socks. Also use Vaseline on areas that may be sore due to chafing e.g. armpits, groin and chest (avoid any logos on your tops that may rub your chest.)

About 2 hours before the walk, have about 200mls of water (large glass) and then visit the toilet just before you start the marathon march.

Pace yourself during the walk as you are not competing against anyone. Also make sure you are walking smoothly and comfortably as otherwise your form will only get worse towards the end and put you at higher risk of an injury.

Throughout the walk every 30 mins take a couple of mouthfuls of water.

Have a glucose gel if required every couple of hours.


As soon as you have your medal – celebrate and then your recovery begins.

Your body temperature is likely to decrease post the walk, even if hot make sure you put some layers on at the end.

Start hydrating and take on board some water and eat some simple foods which don’t contain too much sugar. So have a banana, yoghurt or cereal bar. Avoid alcohol and caffeine if possible!

After the walk, keep moving and walk around slowly for 5-10 mins post completion.

If you can, get a massage afterwards but do not stretch the muscles.

You are likely to be sore for several days afterwards and so make sure that you try to keep moving E.g 5-10 minutes on a static bike and just lying around will prolong the stiffness. Use a foam roller on lower limbs if you have one but a massage would be ideal.

At any point during or after the marathon march if you are feeling unwell, then seek medical advice.

Good luck!

If you would like to help support the 150 Palace fans taking part in the Marathon March, you can donate HERE

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