I’m running my fourth marathon next weekend in Manchester, so have been reminding myself of the lessons I’ve learned from the first three – and thought I’d share them here for what they’re worth!
They’re based on good, bad and indifferent experiences of long runs – sometimes smashing into the dreaded wall and sometimes clambering over it. Apologies if any of these tips seem patronising or out of a motivation book, but if you've got a marathon coming up soon then I hope one or two might be useful.
1 Rest up. It’s always tempting to squeeze in a bit more training in the last week, but it’s far better to keep fresh for the race. I’ll be spending this week lying on the sofa, watching box sets and drinking Lucozade.
2 Get there early. Save yourself the stress of running late. The atmosphere around the start will be great, and it helps to see everyone else looking as nervous as you feel! Plus the queues for the loos will be massive.
3 Put your name on your shirt. Hearing so many people call out your name is amazing.
4 Slap Vaseline everywhere. I won’t go into the gory details. Just trust me. EVERYWHERE.
5 Don’t go off too fast. My topmost of top tips! Everyone does it - it’s so easy to get caught up in the excitement - but everyone pays for it later on. Hang back a bit and know that you’ll overtake them later!
6 Eat regularly. Obvious but easy to forget! I’m a convert to energy gels – the ones with added caffeine are like rocket fuel. Haribo and jelly babies are nearly as good – no wonder my kids go nuts when they’ve had some.
7 Think of it in time rather than distance. It might just be me, but towards the end I always find it easier if I picture it as X minutes to go rather than Y miles. Seems shorter somehow.
8 Try not to walk. Yeah, I know. But whenever I’ve stopped or walked I’ve cramped up and found it very hard to get going again. A really, really slow shuffle is better!
9 Get some treats ready. Visualising something that you enjoy waiting for when you’re done is a nice motivator. For me it’s a hot bath, cold beer and a family-sized bag of salt and vinegar crisps.
10 Be ready for the fight! There’s no way round it – it’s going to be VERY hard. But if it was easy then everyone would do it, and they don’t. Trust to your training – you’ve run so far already, and there’s only a bit left to complete the journey. OK, quite a big bit, but you get the point.
Good luck to everyone with a race coming up – from what I’ve read on the forum everyone here is definitely determined and committed enough to achieve what they want. I’d love to hear your own tips!