There’s a first time for everything…

Lots of info out there about how the London Marathon differs from other marathons, other majors & other cities. I do take most of this stuff with a pinch of salt – it’s still 26.2 & it’s still down to me to run the thing – but now that I have my race number & starting location, it’s time to think about logistics & top tips for this amazing experience. Trains & accommodation are booked, my bag will be packed once I’ve sorted out stuff from my USA trip last week, and finding somewhere for dinner the night before without walking & wandering the city too extensively will have to be planned in.

Logistics aside, there are some tried and tested Marathon tips that I’ll be following.

I am a slow starter, & it’s always served me well over longer race distances. For a marathon, the first 6 miles just needs to get done in under an hour & I slowly sip Lucozade throughout. I can’t remember who advised me to do this but it works for me, and it is advice I now pass on. This photo taken at 10km into Manchester 2018 sums it up – a group of us from GFR had been having a nice chat for the first few miles & once they were done (“only 20 miles to go!”) that’s when it begins proper.

Not the best of race photos, but there we are. Clutching the precious Lucozade, & doing what I think is licking my lips, but who knows. Race photos are invariably terrible & not worth the money!

Beyond the slow start – which is advised for London anyway, because it’s so crowded – the following tips seem to be standard:

Absorb the Tower Bridge moment: I will hopefully do this. I like this iconic bridge & running across it as part of the London Marathon will be great.

Familiarise yourself with the route: I know London quite well, but will work on this. I have been caught out before, running in places I know well but without considering the specific route. Hills can be surprising, especially when you’re fatigued.

Figure out where your supporters will be: usually I’m quite good at this, with a small amount of forward planning. Frontrunners tend to have a big flag so they are easy to spot, & I have former colleagues from charities I’ve worked for who have promised they will cheer me even if I’m not raising money for them, so I’ll be looking out for their flags too. Spotting my family supporters might be trickier, although I do usually manage.

Run the course: this seems fairly obvious, but as someone who runs a bang-on average marathon time & is aiming for a slight sub-4, I anticipate that it’s going to be quite crowded at all points. Slowing down due to congestion will be fine & picking up the pace will be doable at other parts of the course, without getting too stressed about it.

The other thing to do is savour the moment, of course. I am looking forward to this very much. If you have any first time London tips, please let me know!

Photo: Runner’s World

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