Run like ‘elle’s Idiots Guide to Running a Marathon

It’s just four days to go until the London Marathon 2012 (seriously - where’s the time gone?) and last night was the last Run Dem session pre-race, and though I missed the run, I did manage to pop down to catch my friend Lucy aka Mummy Running for a glass of wine - Paula drinks a glass of red before a race, chicken fajitas - protein?! and fries - ummmmmm let’s skim over that bit.

Chat was obviously running oriented and included discussion of some of its less glamorous perils - piss, poo and puke were included in the coversation (you can always rely on Josey Rebelle to lower the tone!)

In addition to the horror stories (none of mine involved piss, poo or puke I hasten to add), I did manage to recall a couple of practical tips. So below is my reflective stream of consciousness. Things I wished I’d realised BEFORE running the marathon.

Me and Mummy Running

Run like ‘elle’s Idiots Guide to Running a Marathon
1) Know your route. I’d glanced at the map, but only to see what tourist sites we’d pass! In retrospect I think I’d have run a better race if I’d known where the hills, crowds, skinny roads etc were going to be.

That said, there is something to be said for surprise – it does liven things up and perhaps makes you less conscious of the miles you’ve yet to run.
2) Arrive in plenty of time. It sounds obvious, but due to transport panics (long story) I managed to miss the start of the marathon by 50 minutes!!! By the time I got there, the last people (those in fancy dress) were crossing the start line.

I was flustered, didn’t get a chance to warm up and was running at the pace of man with a fridge on his back, a rhinoceros, and a pair of bumble bees. Needless to say, any sense of pacing was straight out of the window, and from then on my fate was in the hands of the gods.
3) Streamline your technology. If you’re aiming for a certain time then wear a watch or pace band – but you only need one. I didn’t have anything to set my time and pace against, so had to rely on the staggered clocks along the route. Less than ideal.

4) Wear clothes you’re comfortable in. I love an excuse for new clothes, but this is not the time to experiment or get creative. If you’ve been training in leggings, stick with them etc. And DEFINITELY do not choose today to test a new sports bra!

5) Get your name printed on your running vest. It’s a popular piece of advice for a reason, the support of strangers screaming your name and cheering you on does wonders when the going gets tough.
6) Pack flip flops. This sounds silly, but after 26 + miles your feet are very ready to be released from your trainers, and they’re probably double the size they were before the race – so pack a pair of flip flops in your kit bag and get ‘em on!

(I was so nervous pre-race that I hadn't thought beyond the finish line. I went to my aunty's house straight from the race with no spare clothes, so ended up padding round Primrose Hill that night in a pair of old track pants, my uncle's huge wooly jumper and hotel slippers - because my feet we too fat to put shoes on & I didn't know the flip flops rule. It was a strong look?!)

7) Pack a really warm hoody and put it on as soon as you finish. My marathon day was freakishly hot, but as son as I finished running I was freeeeeeezing. Wrap yourself up warm.
8) Enjoy every minute! What you’re doing is an INCREDIBLE thing, and hopefully one of your most memorable life experiences. No one can take it away from you once you’ve got that gold around your neck, but do keep it in perspective. It’s supposed to be fun.

Wishing all my love and luck to all those running on Sunday. I’m filled with envy and awe, and I’ll be there with my rave whistle to cheer you all on.

run like ‘elle. x