There’s a lot of reading material online about how to mentally and physically get through a marathon, and some articles are more scaremongering than others. With the 2018 London Marathon just less than 24 hours away, here are my top 9 tips on how to get through the 26.2-mile race with a smile on your face…
1. Make full use of the toilet facilities before the start
If you’re following a nutrition plan, you should be fully hydrated before the big race and what goes in must come out. The portaloos are there for a reason, use them! You can never have too many nervous wees before having to head into the starting pens.
2. Be prepared for a long wait after the starting gun goes off
The energy at the start is electrifying. Lap it up but don’t be surprised if you don’t start running straight away. You will hear the commentary from the start line, but you will most likely be hanging around for a while before you see any movement. That’s because there are more than 40,000 people who are also heading for the start line. The logistics are actually pretty seamless, and once you turn the corner out of the Greenwhich park, its not long before your marathon begins!
3. Keep your pace consistent from the start
Fairly obvious, but with all the commotion at the start, it’s all too easy to get carried away with your pace. My advice is to relax, breathe and set the pace you want to run. Remember, you’ve got a long way to go. Keep a steady pace that feels comfortable. If you can get your hands on one, I ran with a pace wristband, which told me how fast I should run each mile in order to finish a sub-four marathon.
4. You don’t need to stop at every water station
The London Marathon offers many water and nutrition stations throughout. My advice would be not to stop at every one because you simply don’t need to. Think back to your training. If you would comfortably run 6 miles before stopping for food or drink, then you don’t need to stop at mile 2 for water on marathon day. With that being said, listen to your body and the advise is to drink and eat little and often.
5. Take sweets off strangers
Despite what your parents once told you when you were growing up, I’m advising you to take sweets off strangers. The crowd at the London Marathon will absolutely see you through the grim phases of the marathon. For me, it was mile 14 heading towards Canary Wharf. I was really feeling the burn; every step was heavy and the psychology of seeing runners on the other side of the road almost on the home straight was difficult to witness. But it’s amazing what a few jelly babies can do to your spirits when you come close to hitting the wall. If you do hit the ‘wall’, run through it, you can do this – and always hit a ‘push for power’ sign!
6. Smile often
You are part of what is arguably the most iconic marathon in the world. Enjoy it. Take in all the sights and think back to why you started this crazy journey.
7. Don’t underestimate yourself
Even if Spiderman, Superman and Mr Blobby overtake you, remember to run your own race. Don’t get deflated. Remember, you are lapping everyone who is sat on the sofa watching the marathon on TV!
8. Have a good playlist
Although there’s plenty of music throughout the entire course, having a good playlist on your device will allow you to tune out when you need to. With that being said, I would urge you to take out your headphones for the really memorable sections. There is something incredible about running over Tower Bridge and the crowds at Canary Wharf are always in high spirits.
9. Wear your medal and finisher’s T-shirt to dinner
You deserve the medal around your neck. Be proud of your achievement and show the world – in person and on social media – that you smashed the London Marathon. Plus, your race number earns you free London transport because you are hero!
Good luck everyone!