My top ten marathon tips!

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! 

18 Replies

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  • Brilliant Tom !

    Good Luck for next weekend . I will give you a cheer as Im marshalling ! :-) xxx

  • Can you give an extra big cheer as he is my cousin too, and he is rather fabulous 😀

  • Of course ! And a rattle of my maracas too :-) xxx

  • Thank you - and thanks in advance for your marshalling support! I'll be in a white top with Tom at the top - see if you can spot me!

  • I will ! I will be stationed on Mile 24- 25 , I will look out for you ! :-) xxx

  • Great - I'll be frantically visualising my cold beer and crisps by then!

  • Some great tips there. Good luck to you and enjoy the rest of the time left you have on the couch!

  • Thankyou so much Tom these are fantastic tips.... I think I might print this off and take it with me for the big day!!! Good luck next weekend, I'll be thinking of you. Please post a piccy too and a race report if you get a mo, that would be super. And I'll add you on the calendar too xx

  • Thanks for the tips! I like the one about visualising treats at the end. I look forward to a can of San Pellegrino lemonade which I wouldn't normally drink as it has about 10 tsp of sugar in it! 

    And good luck for next weekend!! 

  • Thats what i had after the Bath Half and it was like pure gold dust :)

  • My first marathon is coming up, and found the tips really helpful. 

    Thanks again. 

    Smash it next week. 

  • Thanks for the great tips i have heard most of them before apart from 7 and 8 wish i had thought of those before some of my long runs.

    good luck with your 4th marathon not sure i will ever manage that many.

  • Thanks for posting these tips, really useful.  I have seen a few of these before, but having them gathered together helps to reinforce and focus the mind.

  • ....and good luck!

  • Thanks!

  • How did you go on Tom ? I am sure I saw you ! Did you have a white top on with Tom in black writing ? I shouted " Well done Tom ! " and you shouted " Thank you ! " back !

    Wasnt it a hot day ? It was crazy , because we had a frost first thing but it turned out really hot  !

    I know there are loads of runners waiting in a very very long queue at the baggage pick up as they have been complaining on Twitter and in the local paper.

    I was at the 24 /25 mile marker at Urmston , it was a really well supported event wasnt it , with loads of people cheering you on . 

    I truly have massive respect for anyone competing in a Marathon, seeing it so close up and at first hand, you all have my complete admiration .

    Hope you had a good day xxx

  • That was me! Unless there was anyone else dressed the same of course! Thank you so much, and I'm pleased I was able to muster a thank you! The support all round the course was brilliant, and all you marshals were total stars - the shouts of encouragement make such a difference. I gather there were big issues with the bags etc, but fortunately I was able to leave mine with my family. I had a great day - a really flat and fast course and a perfect day for running. Who would have guessed that I'd get sunburned in Manchester in April?! I'll hopefully get round to posting a longer piece about the run on here in due course.

  • Ha ha ! I am so glad I managed to see you and give you a shout out ! 

     You were looking pretty comfortable Tom considering you had run just short of 25 miles !!!

    Wasnt it hot ?? I burnt my face :-) I was there thinking I would be freezing , but it was the complete opposite Ha ha :-)

    The support was good wasnt it ? Lots of people cheering the runners on, fab stuff.

    I really didnt appreciate how far it really is, but seeing it close up and first hand, I think that anyone who is brave enough to take on a Marathon has my undying admiration. You were all amazing !!!!

    Congratulations Tom, I am so pleased that you didnt get caught up in the queues at the baggage re-claim, that mustve been a complete nightmare when you had just run 26 + miles ! 

    Well done Tom and I look forward to reading your write up when you feel up to it .

    Hows the recovery going ? xxx

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