The Virgin London Marathon is nearly upon us, and all the hard work, early mornings and sore legs will soon be worth it. Crossing the finish line of your first marathon is an incredible feeling, and the pain and hurt of the previous 26 miles is momentarily forgotten while the glorious medal is placed around your neck.
For me, the most nerve-racking part of a marathon is the build-up before the race. These tips should help ease your anxiety and ensure that you are fully prepared come race day morning.
When you're nervous it can be tricky to stomach food, but make sure you eat enough of your tried and tested pre-run breakfast to ensure you're fuelled and ready to go.
Regardless of the length of the queue, go before the start if you can. Remember your chip time doesn't start until you cross the start line so your queuing time won't count in your overall race time, however it will if you go along the course. Getting to the start and into a porta-loo line as early as possible should reduce waiting time. I've also seen numerous people (men and women) relieving themselves in the surrounding bushes/street. You may want to bring a little loo roll with you for these purposes!
Bag drop is easy and efficient at the London marathon. Make sure you pack any post-race necessities to increase your comfort upon finishing. Flip flops, a jumper, favourite snack, money and mobile phone (if you're not running with it) are all helpful and comforting additions.
Throw Away Clothes
Stay warm at the start, wearing old clothes or bin bags that you can toss to the side just before you start running. Remember to pin your bib on the front of the top you'll be wearing while running though. If you pin it to your back then you won't be able to find your official race photos!
It's easy to get swept up with the excitement and emotion of the big day and start out too fast. If you think you're running too fast, you probably are. Go at a slow and steady pace at the beginning, you can always speed up later on.
I regret having listened to music throughout the whole of the VLM in 2012, save your music for when you really need it during the later miles as an added boost. Enjoy the sounds of the crowds and fellow runners for the first few miles at least. Additionally, if you're using your phone to listen to music, turn the data roaming off, or close as many of the apps as possible to save battery life for music, pace and meeting up with friends after the race.
If you're lucky enough to have friends and family cheering you on along the route, make sure you know where they're going to be beforehand so that you can keep an eye out for them. I like to have some early on, when I'm still smiling and feeling great, then at least a few through miles 18-24, giving you something to look forward to. I typically give my family painkillers, layers, drinks, sunglasses etc. These are things I might want but don't necessarily need, just in case you miss them.
You'll only run your first marathon once (whether you choose to run more is up to you!) Enjoy it, take in the sights and sounds of London, one of the biggest and best marathons in the world.
Follow Charlie Watson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/charliedwatson