The London Marathon is just around the corner (22nd April), and if you've been planning on tackling this for the first time, it's worth getting as much advice as possible. Here are some useful tips from experienced runners that'll help you avoid disappointment on race day.
1. *TOP TIP*: Be strict with your pacing
We recently interviewed Tom Newman, a budding 19 year-old cross country runner that successfully completed the Brighton Marathon in an amazing 3 hours and 33 minutes, in spite of having experienced multiple injuries throughout training. In answering the questions: What was the most difficult aspect of the marathon? What would your top tip be for first time marathon runners? - this is what he said:
'I'd say the most challenging part was the last 10km of the marathon. The longest run I'd done previously was (only) 20 miles, so my body wasn't used to going the extra distance, my legs felt like lead! But the support from the crowd is a huge help in just getting you to push through the pain.
My advice on the day for anyone is to be really strict with your pacing. Don't go off too fast at the start, as tempting as it is with all the adrenaline and energy you've built up from reducing your miles in your taper. Save it for mile 22 when it really gets tough!'
3. You'll be running over 42.2km, don't forget
So you should try to make it as easy for yourself as possible. One way for you to do this would be via following the most direct racing line, but your chances of this are slim. Whilst the swarm of runners will make it hard to run in the most concise direction, you should at least try to go with the flow at the earliest possibility, so that you don't get held back by slow of the crowd.
4. Don't hesitate to use the toilets during the race
This may be pretty obvious, but if you feel the slightest urge to use the toilet, they're located every two miles throughout the course. Running through the discomfort of having to hold it in will embitter that part of the event for you. In addition, you'll feel so great once you've been that you'll have the energy to focus your attention back onto maintaining a solid pace.
5. Take headphones
Whilst the London Marathon hardly has a deficiency in support, with it's very well-known cheering and screaming crowds on Tower Bridge of the Mall, there are areas including the Isle of Dogs wherein the supportive crowd start to dissipate. It's during a time like this that you'll be grateful to have your earphones/headphones and your favourite playlist. The constant buzz and screams from the crowd can also get a bit exhausting after a while so, even if you find it energising at first, at some point you may wish to shut it out. Earphones are the way to go.
6. Use Vaseline
While chafing can be dealt with in all sorts of ways, Vaseline is a product that won't fail to let you down. As I'm sure you're aware, it's also great as a lip balm, and when you're doing an event that involves breathing hard through your mouth for 42km, chapped lips are almost inevitable.
7. Make the most of the showers on the course
At approximately six locations throughout the course, sprinklers are installed. Even if it's a cool day, alike running in the rain, running through sprinklers will leave you feeling refreshed, so don't miss out on the opportunity. You can discover their location in the last pack of instructions.
8. Don't buy new gear on the day
Stick to what you know on race day. While you may think that a shiny new pair of shoes could give you the edge on other runners, and that the vest with the fancy material will help you to stay feeling fresh; new kicks could result in blisters and a new shirt could be the itchiest thing ever. Don't deviate from what you've tried and tested to avoid disappointment.
9. Download the official race map
The free London Marathon app allows you to discover your precise splits and finishing time, in addition to allowing you to track down any runners that you may know around the course.
10. Examine the race map in advance
The race route can be checked out, not to find out where you're headed or to avoid getting lost, but to discover what exactly is being given out along the way, and when. At the majority of mile markers, there is water, and on some, there is Lucozade Sport. According to Coachmag, at miles 14 and 21.5 you get energy gels if you want them. Using these is worthwhile for saving on the ones you have on you.