This Sunday (23rd April 2017) over 39,000 runners will descend upon London to run the 37th London Marathon. For a lot of people this will be their first time and nerves will be high. Here are a few things that are little known about the experience that might help you out.
Disclaimer: I have never run a marathon before. It's definitely something I'd like to do, however this article was put together from some research I did and from speaking with friends and colleagues who have completed one before.
Stock up on Vaseline
Your clothing choice is key. Don't bust out a new outfit for the occasion, rely on your well-worn and comfortable training gear to avoid chafing. Women, please wear a proper sports bra, can't stress this highly enough. If you do feel anything rubbing however, Vaseline will become your best friend.
At certain points during the race, there should be marshals with tubs of petroleum jelly, so keep an eye out if you start to feel uncomfortable.
The Starting Pen
The starting pen can be very cramped and it will take a long time to get everyone off, so the people you are surrounded by could be the people you are with for at least the first mile. Alleviate nerves by talking and making friends. After all, you're all in it together.
Don't forget to stretch and keep yourself moving. Don't get too frustrated, it can take a while for everyone to set off.
Queues for the toilet
You might be surprised at the long queue for the toilets on the course. As much as you're told to go before the race, it probably won't make any difference. Nerves will make you want to go again!
For the men running the race, don't be tempted to pee against a tree in an effort to beat the queues and to shave seconds off your personal best, it's really not worth it.
Another thing you might not expect is the vast array of fancy dress costumes. Spare a thought for the 10-foot gorilla running or the guy with the cement mixer on his back that people are tossing coins into!
Flying water bottles
There will be marshals handing out bottles of water at set intervals. People in-the-zone tend to take a few sips and throw the bottle behind them. Keep your wits about you and make sure you don't get hit.
The floor will also be littered with half drunk water bottles. Be careful of rolling your ankles or tripping.
People often use the marathon as an excuse to start drinking very early. Don’t be surprised to see spectators with beers in their hands.
Seeing this will make that beer after you cross the finish line taste all the more better!
People cheering your name
Don't forget your name is on the front of your vest, so don't be alarmed to hear people shouting encouragement at you. Enjoy it!
Random people handing you food
People try to be helpful and hand out fuel for runners on the course.
You don't need to eat everything you're given, however the occasional sugar rush is definitely useful. You really only need to consume something every hour, so enjoy a few handful of jelly babies and orange slices from the crowds.
High fiving kids
One of the fun things, is the kids lining the streets to high five the athletes. Enjoying the minor celebrity status and give them a high five back!
Loud live music
At certain points there will be live music all designed to encourage you. It creates a carnival-like atmosphere which is great fun and definitely spurs you on.
Crossing the finish line
After you've crossed the line, expect to be greeted with a nice tin foil shock blanket and a finishers goodie bag. Don't get too excited, as it's mostly leaflets and a rubbish cereal bar!
However do check the leaflets for freebies, I've met people who have scored free bottles of wine from their goodie bag.
You're going to be very sore – enjoy the attention!
There is no escaping the ache for the next few days! Expect to be lifting yourself onto and off the toilet and walking like you've wet yourself!
Definitely make the most of it, and ensure you're being waited on hand and foot, you’ve earned it!
Have a bath and stretch and try to use a foam roller to break down the tight muscles and you'll be back running again in a week!