Throughout today I have been viewing lots of posts on social media with pictures of people picking up their London Marathon numbers and feeling the general buzz that builds around the marathon with of lots of best wishes for those running tomorrow.
Although this may seem like a very late post I thought I would share with you my race preparations and experiences in the past and it may just reassure all of you racing tomorrow that what you are feeling right now is completely normal!
I am a sub 2hr40 marathoner but when it comes to dealing with the build-up and the night before the marathon I think we all have the same feelings of doubt, anxiety and sort of excitement!
I have run the London Marathon many times, whilst I have set my PB here I have had some absolute shockers too.
With all my marathons I distinctly remember the day before the race, I was very lucky on many occasions to stay in the elite hotel surrounded by some amazing athletes and some of my athletics idols. Although this may sound very glam all I remember was lounging around feeling the nerves building, feeling extremely tired and lethargic as my body was trying to store every ounce of energy I could and just wanting the big day to arrive.
I would smile and be upbeat around people but every now again the reality would hit me of what I was going to do the next day. I would have this little devil questioning can I do this? Have I prepared enough? Could I have done more? The Marathon journey is full of ups and downs with good races and bad, great long runs and not such good ones, but this is what puts you in good stead for the race when it starts to get tough and you need to dig in.
I always found my evening meal of mainly carbohydrates really hard to eat, although sick of the sight of pasta by now, I knew it was a must…… I really did not want to socialise but it was a good distraction so I made sure I surrounded myself with positive people and those I felt comfortable with and who would understand why I was not my usual bubbly self but did not judge me.
I would head back to my room, where I would have all my race kit laid out and bag packed for the early start. I would get to bed early but never sleep very well. My coach always said as long as you are off your feet and relaxing that’s all that matters, so that is what I did. I would watch Saturday night TV and then turn the lights out and hope I would get a few hours’ sleep. I do remember on many occasions waking with butterflies in my stomach looking at the clock and seeing I had only been asleep for a few hours!
So the morning of the Big day, I would go down to breakfast and now with butterflies galore! would force my breakfast down, there wasn’t much chitchat between the athletes as we were all now in the racing zone!
Arriving at the start was almost a relief, the work was done and there was no more I could do, I would take every opportunity to sit down and rest my legs until it was time to warm up. It was kind of reassuring being surrounded by thousands of runners all experiencing the same as myself.
I would do a gentle 10 min warm up with some stretches. I just wanted to get going! I always felt incredibly emotional on the start line, this was a mixture of nerves, anxiety but also pride of being on the start line of one of the most amazing marathons in the world I have ever experienced. I made sure I channelled this emotion into a positive energy to run.
I am not going to bore you with my race experiences as we all have our individual stories of good and bad to tell but please make sure you take every moment of the race in from start to finish.
Whether it is your 1st or 51st the marathon tests you mentally and physically but it is only you that is in control of what happens on Race day. You have dedicated so may hours to getting yourself to the start line, so you owe it to yourself to do the best you can. Your goal maybe to complete the distance or it could be to run a certain time, which ever it is, commit yourself. Stay head strong and when things get tough draw upon the hours of training you have put in after all your body will always find it’s optimal speed.
The crowds at London are out of this world and the support is just amazing so soak it up and most of all feel very proud getting on the start line tomorrow and create your own marathon story. You deserve it.
Good luck x
(Ex GB Endurance Athlete)