Top Marathon Tips for Amateur Runners
Artist Nicola FitzGerald completed her first London Marathon last April, in aid of Action Against Hunger. Here she compiles a few useful tips for any amateur runners thinking of applying to do a marathon or taking part this weekend.
Last year, whilst out for my final long run before my first marathon, I tripped over and fell flat on my face. Quite literally plastered - not in the good way - across a road.
I was reminded that running is not my natural home.
I'd never even been running before January 2017, when a New Year's resolution resulted in a lucky last minute spot on Action Against Hunger's London Marathon team.
As the minutes and miles slowly ticked by over the course of that last training run, I had time to reflect upon what I'd learned from the experience:
- You can run - albeit maybe slowly and in an uncoordinated way (that fall was not my first).
- The Thames pathways are lovely – I was so happy to have met them.
- Massage is essential (I've done some research!).
- Compression tights.. who knew? They did actually seem to help. In my case, I think that they worked by cutting off the blood supply to the lower half of my body, so that I felt the pain in my legs less acutely. That, or I bought the wrong size.
- Hills are a challenge, but the London marathon course is mercifully flat.
- People are amazingly, overwhelmingly kind and supportive. Everyone who sends a message, makes a playlist, offers advice, suggests a route or makes a donation… Every one of them makes all the difference in helping you to get round the course on the day.
And on the actual day:
1. Know where your supporters are going to be positioned along the course (and encourage them to bring a distinctive helium balloon to mark them out from the crowd!). Try to plan this in advance, as having these mini goals to aim for along the course really helps to keep your motivation levels up. If friends and family aren't able to make it on the day, a lot of the charities have cheering stations which you could aim for as well.
2. Make sure that you're totally comfortable with your socks and trainers situation, and that you've tried out your chosen combo over decent distances. For me, this ended up meaning going with a battered pair of old faithfuls rather than a newer, snazzier pair designed for marathons.
3. Plan to get to the start area in plenty of time, so that you aren't stressed out about transport and so that you can soak up the atmosphere in a relaxed frame of mind.
4. Take some energy balls, cubes or gels - whatever you prefer, so that you have something with you to keep you going when you need it. I stored these in a mini runners' bum bag type of thing, which I wore throughout the run, but I'm sure there are more stylish solutions out there!
5. Keep in mind the reason why you're running. This will motivate you more than anything else, as will the sights and sounds of your fellow runners (all of whom are there for such inspiring reasons too) and of the awesome crowds. It's an event that really brings out the good in everyone. When people told me it would be one of the best days of my life, I was sceptical. But they were right. It's London and humanity at its best. Good luck and enjoy; you've done the hard work of training - well done, congrats, and be proud of everything you've achieved throughout the process.
6. Book a massage for the Sunday evening.
To contact Nicola or view her work visit www.nicolafitzgerald.com