Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Tips for a First Time London Marathon Runner

This weekend sees me standing on the start line of the London Marathon yet again. I can't bloody wait. I'm aiming for a sub-3 which is going to hurt. If however, this is your first London Marathon, I hope the below helps. Best of luck!

So, you’ve done the hard bit (well nearly), you’re fit, healthy and raring to go. Obviously stick to whatever you’re used to and only take advice on the things you might find helpful. Get a good night’s sleep on Friday, it’s the most important night. Stay off you your feet on Saturday (you could go for an ultra slow 15 minutes jog), drink water (don’t glug it down, it will only make you wee it all out) and relax on the couch all day!

• Pack your marathon bag and lay your race day outfit out, the night before. It will help you sleep as you won’t be thinking about what you need to pack/remember.

• Take your race number, scrunch it into a small ball and then open it up fully again. Making it crumply stops it from acting like a sail while you’re running. (Trust me, this is one of the best tips I’ve ever been given & I do it to every single race no. I get.)

• Smear your feet (esp. toes) in Vaseline when you put your socks and shoes on in the morning. It will feel squidgy for a few minutes but then your feet absorb it and it stops the blistering. Honest.

• Pack a loo roll to take with you to the start. Loos there will ALWAYS run out.

• Rather get there early and sit around at the start than have to jog to the start if you’re late. It’s a bit of a walk from the station. Going early also means you might get a seat on the train on the way there. Rest those legs, you've to 42.2km coming up.

• Take an old ‘throw-away’ t-shirt and a bin bag (cut 3 holes for head and arms) to wear once you’ve put your finish bag on the truck. If cold, run with them on for a few miles until you’re feeling warm and then bin them. Don't waste energy trying to keep warm while you wait in the start pens.

• Take water to sip and a banana to eat before the gun goes off.

• Stretch a little before the start but don’t worry about doing a jog to warm-up. You’ll have plenty time to get warm.

• Make sure you run self-sufficient. Don’t hope to receive something from a supporter/loved one. If the trains have issues and the person isn’t where you expect them, you’ll be stressing. It’s a bonus if you do get something extra along the way but don’t rely on it.

• Don’t stress if the going is slow at the start. Think of it as a blessing as starting out too quickly will come back to haunt you later on. Seriously don’t worry if you feel the pace is too slow. Because you’ve trained well, the first half of the race will feel easy. It’s the second half that you’re saving it for.

• Run consistent. Stick to your mile splits but if you feel it’s too hard to keep reaching them, slow down a few seconds and reassess your goal time. (Better to slow down than blow up.)

• Take water from the end of the watering tables. It’s less busy. There’s so many watering tables, only drink when you feel you need to, not at each one. Don’t carry the water you pick up. Take one, have a few sips and throw it. Energy is wasted carrying it.

• Most importantly, enjoy it. Soak up the atmosphere. It’s incredible! You’ll get goose-bumps. It’s like running in a stadium for 26.2 miles. People will shout your name; raise a hand and smile (if you can). It’s so much fun, but don’t get too excited in the first half. All the adrenaline will make you want to run faster. Save it for a sprint finish.

• The last bit on the Mall will blow you away. Tears will flow, you’ll feel as light as air, and that’s it, you’ve done it!