It’s London Marathon week so our Top 5 Tuesday (and maybe Wednesday, Thursday and Friday) is going to be dedicated to first-time London Marathon runners. Today we are concentrating on tips that we have found have helped us during the race. Race day is fast approaching. You’ve done all the training (or maybe not but it’s too late to worry about that). Whatever, you will probably have both good times and bad times on the day – here are some tips that will hopefully ensure more good than bad!

Even pacing

We can’t stress this enough but we know most runners will ignore it. We both ignored it for over 100 marathons. You should know your predicted finish time from your training. Run this time at an even pace. The course usually measures long so when working out your pace use something like 26.4. If you feel really good towards the end then you can maybe pick it up a bit. You will be passing hundreds of runners at this point because they have all gone out too fast and are now suffering for doing so. ‘Miles in the bank’ does not work.

Keep control of the race

Keep control of the race – don’t let it control you. In other words no random walking. If you hadn’t planned to walk during the race and feel that you need to, then make yourself a new plan. Decide on a time for walking and time for running. It doesn’t matter how you do this, for example, walk 1 minute/run 9, walk one lamp-post/ run two. Adjust your plan if necessary but try to stay in control.

Run a mile for someone

This is a good distraction if you need it (though London is full of distractions!). Think of the people you care about or the people who have helped you along the way, people you admire or those that inspire you. Dedicate the mile to them and think about them during this time and hopefully the mile will pass without you realising.

Run the mile you are in

The race as a whole can seem daunting. Try not to think too far ahead. Thoughts like “I’ve still got x miles to go/x hours to run” are not helpful. Concentrate on getting through your current mile. Good or bad “This too will pass” – as long as you keep moving forward. Try to enjoy the moment.

Fuelling late on in the race

Often during a marathon there comes a point when everything seems too much effort. To the supporters who you’ve waved back to enthusiastically earlier on you can now barely return a smile. If someone/something causes an obstruction in front of you, you can hardly negotiate round them. It becomes impossible to do the pace calculations in your head. As for getting your last gel out of your race belt and actually swallowing it – well that’s just a step too far! But this is something that you must do – don’t stop fuelling because it seems like too much effort. You tell yourself it won’t matter – there’s not too far to go now but these last miles are just as important to get right. You have your fuelling strategy. Try to stick to it.


The London Marathon is special. This might be the only time you get to run it. We hope this helps you to enjoy your race.