The countdown to the London Marathon has begun and with just days to go thoughts are no doubt turning to the big day. Whilst you’ve put in months of training being prepared on the day is vital. Check out our tips for novice runners on what to remember just before and on race day.
Make sure you eat a healthy meal that includes plenty of protein and carbohydrates the evening before- pasta is a popular choice for Marathon runners. Don’t have something you have not been eating during your training as your body will not be used to it. Try and eat between 4pm and 6pm to give your body the time to digest the food.
Know Where You Start
Make sure you know where you will be starting the race. For the mass race there are 3 start points- the Blue Start at Blackheath, the Green Start at St. John’s Park and the Red Start at Greenwich Park. It will be busy on the day so it’s best to know where you need to be in advance.
Take It Easy Before Run
You’ve put months into training in the lead up to the Marathon so take it easy the night before the race. It’s fine to go for a gentle 2 or 3 mile run but don’t overdo it or you will use up all that energy you’ll need for the day. Take your mind off the day ahead and watch a favourite film or read a book.
Get Up Early
Getting up early will give you time to prepare for the day. It can get very congested around the Marathon start points so it is best to set off early and try and arrive at least 90 minutes before your race begins. The mass race starts at 10am so try and be there around 8.30am.
Whilst the adage that breakfast is the most important meal of the day couldn’t be more true, don’t be tempted to have a huge breakfast. Stick to what you would normally eat and don’t introduce something new. Make sure you eat breakfast at least 90 minutes before the race to give it time to go down.
Wear Comfortable Clothes
Don’t wear a new pair of running shoes the day off the race. Wear the clothes and footwear you have been training in as you will be familiar with and comfortable in. Take something warm to wear whilst waiting to start the race and pack flip flops for the finish- your feet will thank you.
To avoid blisters cover your feet in Vaseline or nappy rash cream as this will help prevent rubbing. It’s worth trying this out the night before as it can take getting used to. Make sure you put on your socks properly- creases can rub and make you feel uncomfortable.
Don’t forget to warm up at the start line, some gentle jogging and light stretching should be enough to warm your muscles up.
Don’t start off too quickly, it’s far better to set an even pace if you want to finish the race! Don’t be afraid to set yourself a (realistic) finishing time though, it will give you something to aim for. Time yourself for the first few miles so you have an idea of your pace.
It is important to keep hydrated (especially if the sun is out!) but don’t drink too much. Don’t wait until you are thirsty, drink little and often instead. There are water stations every mile from mile three onwards so don’t worry about running out of water.
At some point you are likely to ‘hit the wall’- normally between 18 and 21 mile marks- and it will be difficult and painful to continue. Don’t focus on the pain and try to think of other things. Think of the charity you are running for and listen to the cheers of the crowd as these will spur you on. Put your name on your vest as hearing people shouting your name will be a huge boost to morale.
You might find counting down mile by mile helps but if this makes it feel too daunting focus on short distances- aim to run to the next lamppost for example. Don’t forget to congratulate yourself- it’s not an easy accomplishment.
Above all you should enjoy the race- running 26 miles is an impressive achievement and it doesn’t matter how long it took you