Last year, I was one of those people lining up on the start line for the 2016 London Marathon. This year I won’t be so lucky but I know that thousands of you will be. So I thought I’d put together my tips for that all important race day. It was something I wish I had researched more. I was kinda prepared for the start but I made some rookie errors in the race that could have been avoided and I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had of avoided them.
These tips would be good for any marathon I’m sure, I just happen to have run the London one.
Top Tips for Running the London Marathon
Wrap up warm for the start
I was freezing at the start. 2016 was a ridiculously cold year for the marathon so don’t do this if it is going to be crazy hot, obviously. If cold temperatures are forecast though make sure you have layers to discard in the first few miles. Extra trackies over your running pants, bin bags over your running top, you name it, wear it. I didn’t and consequently didn’t feel ready to start after having stood still for far too long waiting to start.
Don’t drink too much before hand
At the start zones there will be free drinks being given out, I thought that because of this I needed to make the most of them. Couple that with all the nerves I was feeling, my bladder decided to play tricks on me. I must have visited the toilet a handful of times before I lined up but then before we even started I was so desperate to pee again! Needless to say the first toilet we came to on the route I went in. That being said going then set me up perfectly for the race and I didn’t need to stop again.
Don’t take sweets etc. from those offering them on the side line unless you have eaten them while running before
I was really struggling coming up to the half way point so I decided to grab a few jelly babies from the kids offering them. Problem was, I hadn’t trained eating them and they instantly made me feel sick. Then began an unpleasant stint of trying to get over having eaten something I wasn’t used to while running. I won’t go in to the details but trust me, not a good idea.
Get your name on your vest
This was probably the best thing I did. Hearing people shout my name while running around the streets of London was surreal but so encouraging. Just when you could feel yourself wondering how you are going to get through this someone will shout your name and you’ll be good for another km or two. Be sure to have your name on the front too, so that people can shout your name as you run towards them, shouting it after you have gone past them won’t have quite the same effect.
Don’t run with anything you haven’t practiced with
I hadn’t really worked out how I was going to carry my gels and essentials during the race so when I popped into Excel for the marathon expo I picked up a running belt. It had a little pouch and some elastic bits for squishing your gels in. The problem was I got this on the Thursday and was then running on the Sunday. I didn’t do another run in those days and so the marthon was the first day I used it. Big mistake. The belt hurt my hips so much as it sat in a totally different place to the one I had used previously. Of course, since using it multiple times it is really comfy. So, do get a running belt but run with it before the big day. The expo is not for picking up last minute gear.
Spend money on a decent pair of running shoes
I never really spend a lot on shoes but the trainers I brought for the marathon retailed at £100, admittedly I got them in the Jan sales at half price but you get the idea, they were a decent shoe. Also make sure you chat with the guys in the sport store about options and what would suit you and your running style best. I tried on multiple brands and sizes to be sure I had a pair that were a best fit. Doing this resulted in only a few blisters and the lose of just one nail. That seemed like a pretty good result to me. I’d be surprised if anyone could run the marathon and not get a blister/lose a nail.
I was really concerned with whether to eat breakfast or not on the morning of the race. I had almost convinced myself it wasn’t a good idea until I went to the expo at Excel before the big weekend. The talk I listened to there went over diet in the lead up to the race and how important breakfast would be. Porridge was recommended as the ideal breakfast and as this was what I normally ate anyway I decide to go for it. After all I was up hours before the start time so it had plenty of time to digest before running.
Have you run a marathon? Have you got any tips to add to this?