Phils 13 tips for the London Marathon

Never one to let not having had the idea in the first place get in the way, I'm scurrilously taking a leaf out of 3 Chickens book by offering my own personal advice for London marathon day.

These are things that have popped into my head from my own experience of running last years marathon, so may or may not be helpful.
  1. Breakfast - eat a good one, well before you set off. It's the key fuel you'll have for your running after the pasta from the day before, so don't be tempted to skip it if you're too nervous/excited to eat. Also, don't try anything new now as it could have unpleasant side-effects!
  2. Arrival - I got there way too early as my practice trip co-incided with engineering works so I gave myself too much time. Plan your trip and take a book/mp3 player etc so you can just chill beforehand (after you've wandered round the start area to see what's going on!).
  3. Pre-race drinks - there's loads of tea/water/lucozade on offer as you wait for the start. Try to resist the temptation to nervously drink for the sake of it or to keep your hands busy. You'll only set off running and get stuck in an almighty queue for the first set of portaloos! Then you'll try to 'catch up' and go out too fast, which could screw you over at the end.
  4. Vaseline - you may never have experienced chafing on your marathon training runs so might think it's unnecessary - but better to be safe than sorry. Last year, in the changing marquee, I was worried about how it'd look putting vaseline on me with a few hundred other blokes around. A quick scan of the room showed most people doing the same (and clearly not ashamed by it!). Seriously, just go to town with the stuff - nipples, feet, down your pants, everywhere. The sight of people running the last few miles with blood running from various parts of their body still haunts me...
  5. Bin bags - last year I took my too-big-free-FLM-jacket-type-thing to keep warm at the start and ditched it in a portaloo. Loads of people wear bin bags to keep warm and ditch them when the marathon starts. I'd have gone for this option, but if you do, make sure you're at the side of the road so you can throw it out of the way so no poor sod running behind you trips over it before they've even crossed the start line!
  6. Don't worry about getting to the front of the pen you're in at the start - the timing chip isn't activated til you cross the start line, so no point crushing people.
  7. When the different starts merge, "boo". I've no idea why, but its fun!
  8. Get some high 5's from kids as you run past - this only really happened on the south side of the river (my fave bit - the crowds were locals and awesome!)
  9. Don't run all over the road, weaving about to get through the crowds - you'll waste energy, and piss people off!
  10. Don't drink on the course for the sake of it - there's plenty of water stops and regular lucozade refills so don't panic thinking you need to guzzle the lot. Unless it's hot, in which case drink what you need (waterwise - overdoing the lucozade could mess up your guts!) and take advantage of the showers on the course.
  11. Enjoy it! You'll be knackered, in pain, want to crawl under a bush and die, but you've spent months running in the cold and dark winter to prepare for this so try to take it all in!
  12. If you see someone struggling on the marathon course, offer some encouragement - it might help them (it did me a bit last year, but mainly because it pissed me off!). It could even help your running as you pretend that you're enjoying it too!
  13. Lastly, don't, under any circumstances, be tempted to enter the ballot for next year's London Marathon! You should know better by now!


  1. Good tips Phil. The one I'd *always* add is to write your name in BIG clear letters on the front of your vest. Hearing people cheer your name after mile 21 makes a real difference.

    Also, be prepared for the weather. Have a hat and a waterproof (or whatever you rin in the rain in) with you at the start.

  2. Agree with 8 and 13 ;)

    The name on the front of the vest thing is one close to my heart of course...

  3. Well done Phil totally good tips. I must also say from my experience last year having an entire change of clothes to put on after is a life saver! Apparently I was blue, so my spare set of winter warm clothes probably saved me at the end from getting very sick! My friends had to help me take the sodding wet clothes off but I was toastie warm on the way home - who said socks & jandals (flip flops to you) weren't hot obviously never ran 26.2 miles before!