Perfect Prep: How to run the London Marathon (and enjoy it)

On Sunday, the 43rd London Marathon takes place with 50,000 participants walking, running and jogging their way along the famous 26.2 mile route which ends along the Mall at Buckingham Palace. Having taken place in October for the past three years due to Covid, this is the first time that it is back to the usual April date. Hundreds of thousands of people will descend on the capital this weekend to cheer on friends and family as they take on this challenge.

The training

Running a marathon was always on my bucket-list and I was fortunate enough to get a charity place for October 2022. Having never been a long-distance runner, the furthest I had run before was 10k, but I was determined to prove to myself that I could do it. As someone whose regular training usually consisted of sprints and 5ks, getting used to running longer distances was a bit tricky to start with but something that I soon got used to and found that I actually quite enjoyed as it gave me the opportunity to explore new parts of the city.

My experience on the day

It doesn’t surprise me that the London Marathon is notoriously one of the best marathons to run as the support out on the route is amazing. The first place that it’s really noticeable is about 6 miles in at Cutty Sark, turning the corner to hear a wall of noise and cheers that really gives you a boost. You will hear strangers shouting encouragement for you that really pulls you along when your legs are getting heavy. Hitting ‘the wall’ is definitely a thing and mine kicked in around miles 15-20 where there aren’t many supporters. This is where the mental side of it is very important and you just have to believe that you can do it and tell yourself to keep going. It sounds cliché but it really is true!!

The last 4.2 miles are amazing because you’ve basically done it, your legs will be moving on autopilot but there are thousands of people screaming and shouting and you know that you are so close to rounding the corner and Buckingham Palace coming into view.

It is an unbelievable experience and looking back is definitely one of the toughest things I’ve done, but I did pick up a few tips and tricks along the way, so for anyone running on Sunday hopefully some of these will help and good luck!

  1. Nothing new on race day – don’t wear any new clothing or trainers that you haven’t trained in and it’s not the time to be trying new gels or form of nutrition as you don’t know how your body will react.
  2. Noise cancellation – Some people recommend not wearing headphones for it but personally I found the first 5 miles pretty quiet and definitely needed them, I then ran with one headphone in so I could hear both music and the crowd.
  3. Friends and family – If friends and family are coming to watch, tell them to buy a helium balloon in a recognisable shape or colour, it is so much easier to spot in the crowd than a sign or a waving hand!
  4. Motivation – Your legs will carry you all the way you just have to keep telling yourself that you can do it.
  5. Overall – Just enjoy it! It doesn’t matter what time you do it in as long as you remember to have fun and take it all in, the crowd and atmosphere are really special.

If you aren’t running the marathon on Sunday, hopefully this will have inspired you to apply and start training for next year’s! 

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