1) No last minute cramming. The final two or three days is all about rest and tapering. That means no big runs, and no trying to fit in lost training. You have more to gain by resting, and any big mileage will only fatigue your legs which you need to be in best condition on the day. Trust in the hard work of all those weeks of training. Be Lazy. Rest. Sleep more.
2) No new kit /new drinks/ new supplements. A change now could mean blisters,tendon injuries or diarrhoea on the day. Stick with what you body knows.
3) Plan your time, right up until the race starts. Aim for a quick in-and-out of the Marathon registration and bag pick up, and don’t spend hours on your feet when you are there. Think about how you are going to get to Blackheath on the morning. It will be early, and it’s vital you check the TFL website to see if your bus/train/DLR transport can get you there in good time. There is nothing worse than arriving stressed, late and after the race has already begun. Bring warm clothes that can either be handed to someone else to take away or disposed of. Ensure you have all your gels, pre-run drinks and any medication you need (e.g. asthma inhaler) with you. Check and re-check your kit bag.
4) Don’t ignore an injury, so get expert advice from a sports physiotherapist, osteopath or sports physician. Never run if ill on the day. A fever, vomiting and diarrhoea, chest infection etc = DO NOT RUN. Don’t risk your health for a race. You can defer until next year, and run the race you deserve when you are well.
5) Eating. Get up early on the day, and eat a good carbohydrate-rich breakfast a couple of hours in advance of running. Porridge and toast are a firm favourite, but the important thing is to eat something! Dont let nerves get in the way of fuelling -26 miles is a long way.
6) Write your name on your running top. Nothing makes the miles easier than hearing spectators shouting out your name or nick-name and cheering you on! Write it in big bold letters.
7) When the race starts, stick to your running schedule. If you are a nine minute miler, don’t be tempted to run a sub-7.30 minute mile pace, or you’ll boom-bang. Try to avoid weaving between other runners, which wastes energy and literally adds extra miles. Find another runner who suits your race pace, and keep near them. Ensure you get enough fluids and isotonic drinks on board by walking the length of the drinks station, and be kind to your fellow runners by not ‘watering’ their trainers with sticky drink when you discard your empty sachet.
8) Caffeine has been shown to help with fatigue and pain, particularly in women. If you are used to using them, sports gels with caffeine, or a caffeine tablet (e.g. ‘pro-plus’) can help ward off the blues if you feel yourself hitting the wall, but only use if tried and tested already, and you have no medical contra-indications to it.
9) If friends and family are supporting you on the day, think about where you are most likely to get a chance to see them, as obvious land marks (e.g. Cutty Sark) can be hugely crowded. Docklands can be a lonely place during the Marathon, so consider arranging a rendezvous with a much needed chum along Trafalgar Way, where you are likely to spot each other.
10) Remember to enjoy it! Running the marathon is one of the greatest achievements possible for a human being, so embrace the day for the amazing experience that it is, allow yourself to bask in the glory when you cross the line, and wear that medal with pride!