If you are one of those crazy people, or should we say lucky people, ready to take on your first Marathon then we want to wish you the best of luck. But first, we want to offer you some words of advise and top tips in to give you the best possible start to your 26.2 mile journey!!
Here’s our top tips for first time marathon runners…
Time to dig out the vaseline. And we aren’t talking your little tin, we mean the big guns – remember those big plastic tubs, get down to the supermarket and grab a tub. Whatever the weather and no matter what kit you have opted for you are going to need it, and don’t be afraid to go over board. We could not advise you more to put vaseline in all the places it wouldn’t normally be. No, seriously – be sure to put vaseline, under your armpits, over your nipples and between your thighs to prevent the dreaded chafe, around your ankles to stop blisters and even between your toes and over your toenails (if you want to keep them)!
Don’t go into it with your eyes closed. It is always a good idea to cast an eye or two over the course map before race day. Whether it is out of curiosity or to work out the best places for your family and friends to spot you, it can also be a great way to mentally prepare for the distance. Something we would definitely advise is to take note of where the water, fuel and toilet points are, maybe even jot them down on your hand. You don’t truly know how you will feel until you get running but there is nothing worse than getting caught short of the toilet or running too low on fuel that you have to stop.
No engines run on empty! Be sure to give yourself time for a substantial breakfast, not only are you going to be running a fair distance which is sure to need a full tank but you will be surprised how much energy gets used up with the adrenalin and nerves pre race. Stick to what you know, don’t mix it up if you are staying away form home, ideally have a breakfast that you have tried and tested before a long run. It can be easier said than done to bring yourself to stomach a meal with all the butterflies filling your tummy but try your best to eat a full breakfast and if you just can’t hack it, take a snack with you – it is going to be a couple of hours until you actually start running!
A toilet is a toilet. It is inevitable that you will need to go before the race, and sadly so will everyone which makes it even more inevitable that the toilets are not going to be looking too fresh for too long. But, a toilet is a toilet and when you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go! A heads up for the ladies, and not something everyone would tell you is that at a lot of large Marathon races to help reduce queues they may bring in female urinals – thats right ladies time to learn to stand and pee.
You are going to have to show off your queuing skills. We are notoriously good at waiting in line and joining the back of a queue so it may come as no surprise that you will have to wait a while to get over the start line. Unless you have bagged yourself a championship spot you will need to prepare for some waiting time. With the sheer amount of runners it can be anything from a couple of minutes to 40 minutes from when the elite runners at the front of the pack start to when you cross the starting line. Our tip – don’t join the queue or get into your start pen until you really need too and try to stay relaxed, the nerves flying round are enough to make anyone need to get back to the toilet!
Your GPS watch will hit 26.2 before you do! Even in perfect conditions GPS trackers and watches aren’t 100% accurate and should be taken with a pinch of salt. It is likely that you will track an extra kilometer or two not only because of the sheer amount of people all tagging onto the GPS signals but you would be extremely lucky to stick to the racing line for 42km, and every weave in and out will be topping up your total distance. Our tip would be to pace yourself with the kilometre and mile markers on the course and use your tracker as a general but don’t swear by it – most importantly, remember it won’t be your tracker time on the official results!!
It’s a Marathon not a sprint – hold yourself back at the start. Adrenalin, excitement and nerves can do wonders for your pace and that would be great if you were only running a 5k or 10k. But when you need to get your legs through 26.2 mile or 42km then flying off at the start is the last thing you want to be doing. Don’t worry about your pace for the first few miles, use the first 5k as a warm up and keep it comfortable. It is better to have something saved in the tank for a flying finish than to fire up early and crawl over the finish, after all there will be cameras every where and that finish line photo will be with you forever!!
There is a finish line ready to be crossed. The marathon distance is as much a mental challenge as it is physical and as much as anyone can offer advise and tips it really is just you out there and only you are going to get yourself across the finish line. Well it isn’t going anywhere and it is waiting for you to smash through it. Each step and each mile is getting you closer so take away the bigger picture and zone in. It can be far too easy to get your head stuck in the distance ahead and bring in those negative thoughts along the way, after all who has ever chosen to be in their own thoughts for more than 3 hours let alone up to 8!
You have done the training, your legs are ready so just let the joys of the crowds bring out your smile and keep putting one foot in front of the other!! You won’t meet anyone who has ever regretted completing a marathon, and you will struggle to create a moment to be more proud of yourself!!
For those of you running London Marathon this Sunday, the RunThrough team will be cheering around 17.5miles and will be there to give you a boost, a hug, a Haribo or even a pep talk so look out for us. Let us know your runner number on our event page HERE and we will look out for you too!