We asked our marathon runners what they would tell themselves if they were to take on another marathon. And they came back with a ton of great advice. If you’re about to take on your first ever 26.2 miles, listen up!
Don’t get hung up on your finish time.
It’s easy to get caught up on your goal finish time. All your splits and hours of figuring out whether you can shave an extra few minutes here and there, are good to an extent. But try not to focus on this too much on the day. Your body will let you know whether it’s gone off too fast or if it’s got some spare energy in the tank. Keep an eye on your watch but remember to look around you and remember how amazing the challenge is.
Hydrate properly beforehand.
Drinking water in the days leading up to the event is important to get your body fully hydrated before the actual event day. Little and often is good, have a bottle of water on your desk at work and aim to drink slightly more than usual. It isn’t a good idea to down pints of water the morning of the event, you’ll be needing the loo and it can be quite dangerous. Check out the health advice blog for more information.
Prepare your mind as well as your body.
Yes you run the marathon with your legs. But you also run it with your mind. The thoughts you have ahead of the challenge can be off putting and cause far too much worry. Believe in yourself. You CAN do this! You WILL finish. And just imagine how amazing you’ll feel when you cross that finish line. After all, when your body is about to stop, it’s your mind that keeps it going.
“Believe you can, and you’re half way there!” Willie
Don't fear walk breaks.
If your run isn’t going to plan, then don’t worry – you can walk. This will help you re-gather your thoughts, give yourself a pep talk, high five some kids on the route or maybe have a little emotional moment to remember why you’re doing all this. It’s okay! You’ve made it across the start line and you’re finally doing the miles you’ve trained for. Take the atmosphere in, breathe and start jogging again when you’re ready.
This is one of the most common bits of advice you’ll hear because it’s very easy to go off all guns blazing! You’re excited, you can’t wait to get going. You think maybe if you do the first few miles faster then this will help speed things along, however it will come back to bite you further in. Your energy will be low and this can be really annoying if you hit the wall. Pace yourself from the start and as we said at the start – stick to your game plan.
Don’t miss your long runs.
And by long runs we mean those above 16 miles. These are the ones where you really are grafting. Yes you won’t feel like doing them every time but this is where the hard work really pays off on the day. You’re not only physically prepared, but mentally too. You know how your body reacts to longer distance. It’s also a good opportunity for you to ‘rehearse’ the motions for the big day. Go out around the same start time as the event, eat what you think you’ll eat on event day and wear the running gear you want to wear. That way you can change anything that isn’t quite right beforehand.
“I loved every mile. Why? Because I was ready.” Angela
Know the course in advance.
We’re not saying you need to know every single street, but it’s a good idea to know whereabouts you’re exploring whilst you’re out on the course. It’s also good to know certain landmarks on the route so you know how far in you are. Get your friends and family to look over it too, so you can decide on the best pubs (oops, spectator points!) are so they can come along to cheer you on!
Take tapering seriously.
Most training plans will take you up to around 1-2 weeks before when the distance starts to ‘taper off’. This means your body has done all the hard work and it’s time to make sure your body is in check before the main event. Don’t start to cram in the mileage the week before, this won’t make ANY difference other than make you feel weaker and more tired. So, take your tapering seriously.
Will has one word of advice, "Vaseline..."
Stick to your game plan.
You’ve done all your training, everything has gone smoothly – hopefully you’re injury free! You know the pace you can keep up and you know when to push on or ease off. Try not to change your plans at the last minute – stick to what you know.
You might not think it, but running a marathon can be really enjoyable (If you’ve trained properly that is). There’s so much to see on course, crowds cheering your name, children handing out sweets and high fives, music to keep you going – and much more! Make all that training worthwhile and be proud of what you’re achieving. You're AMAZING.