The biggest week of the London running calendar is here… it’s LONDON MARATHON WEEK!
Whether you’re running, spectating, dreaming of running it one day or just a keen runner popping down to the expo to take advantage of the great deals, it’s an exciting week.
I was invited down to St Martin’s Courtyard and Mercer Walk to help get myself ‘Marathon Ready’ ahead of Sunday’s race. It’s a cute area in the heart of Covent Garden, home to some of my fave fashion and beauty boutiques, restaurants and wellbeing offerings (yoga, spa and more) – perfect for those last – minute marathon purchases.
I brought my friend Will, who is running his first marathon this weekend to share some race day advice, and thought it would be fun to share those tips (as well as our day out) with you guys.
We started at Bills for brunch in St Martin’s Courtyard. They’ve updated their menu since I last had breakfast there, and we were all really impressed by the cooked breakfasts. They were huge! Highly recommend the Garden Plate (veggie brekkie with eggs, halloumi, baked beans, tomato, mushrooms, toast, potato rosti…the perfect carb loading brunch the day before the marathon!)
On our way to Bill’s we passed Dishoom – if you haven’t been for one of the breakfasts yet, I highly recommend the Bacon Naan Roll (perhaps as a post-marathon treat).
Once we’d had a slap up meal, we hit the shops within St Martin’s Courtyard and Mercer Walk to get those essential last minute marathon purchases…
Runner’s Need (inside Snow & Rock) – For gels, accessories (Will bought a race belt to stash his gels), socks, trainers, and all of your running specific needs.
I would recommend trying to stick to gels that you’ve tried in training, and if you haven’t used gels before, it might be worth going with sweets instead. Personally, I like Salted Caramel Gu, especially for a race with a forecast as warm as this year with the added salt content!
H & M – I love H & M Sportswear, they do some great pieces that are so similar to brands like Lululemon, but are really affordable. They had a fab selection in the store (I might have also made a few spring/summer work pieces while I was in there too!).
Nothing new on race day!!
It’s probably not a good idea to buy any new kit this close to race day, however it never hurts to get some new kit to encourage you to keep running even after you finish the marathon, or having a snuggly hoody and leggings to change into after the race!
Navy Leggings £24.99
Long Sleeve Top – £17.99
There are other fab shops in the area including & Other Stories, Jack Wills, Cos, Barbour and LK Bennett.
The penultimate thing on our agenda was a massage at Relax. I’d highly recommend having a sports massage this week in the lead up to the marathon, to give those muscles some love! However, personally I don’t like to have it too close to the big day for maximum recovery time. My calves and quads always take a battering during a sports massage, so leaving at least 2 days between the sports massage and marathon is optimum.
I haven’t had a relaxing massage for months, always opting for a sports massage when given the choice, so it was really nice to have a 30 min relaxing back massage. If you saw my instagram stories on Saturday, you’ll know that Will also had a massage, although he didn’t get the memo to keep his boxers on!
We had a lovely chat with the manager after our treatments, who told us about his marathon running experiences. Relax is a great pre or post marathon massage spot, they even have chairs for upper body massages so that you don’t have to get naked (like Will!)
Last on our agenda was a yoga class at Yotopia.
I think yoga is a fab workout to do in the lead up to the marathon…however not if you haven’t done it before! This is not the time to start something new. If you like yoga and find it relaxing, or a good stretch, then there are plenty of class style options available at Yotopia – you can see the full list here.
I recently wrote a blog about focusing on the little things that make up marathon training that aren’t just the miles, and how I wanted to go to Yin yoga classes more regularly. I’ve signed up for a pre-marathon Yin yoga class at Yotopia this weekend, and they’ve given me a 5 class card to give away to you guys! Simply leave a comment below on what your fave type of yoga class would be…
London Marathon Race Day Tips
Get in the queue for the loo as soon as you arrive in the race village. If you’re anything like me, it’s probably wise to get straight back in that queue after your first nervous wee. Bring loo roll with you, it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Start slow. The race is long, you don’t need to shoot out of the starting pen and try not to waste extra energy weaving around other runners – you can make up the time with a negative split. Focus on your form, getting into a good stride and if possible, following the painted line in the road to avoid too much extra distance. (I typically run an extra 0.2-0.5 miles during a marathon).
Vaseline/Body Glide EVERYWHERE. I literally cannot stress this enough. Under your sports bra, your armpits, nipples, inner thighs, ass crack, waistband…. ignore this advice at your peril. I’ve cried in the shower after marathons! There are also lovely volunteers handing out sticks with vaseline on if you need any extra mid-race (also good for sore lips).
Write your name in large letters on your race top for extra personalised encouragement from the crowds. Run on the edges of the road when you need a pick me up from the supporters, however if you need some more quiet time then run in the middle of the road. Sometimes the crowds can feel a little overwhelming!
It’s going to be warm. Adjust your time goals appropriately, and make sure you hydrate well beforehand as well as taking salt/electrolytes en route. Drink little and often, even at the start of the race. It’s also important to take in electrolytes either from sports drinks like Lucozade at aid stations 5, 10, 15, 19 and 23 or your gels.
Even though it’s going to be warm on race day, bring throwaway clothes so you don’t get cold at the start line. You’ll always warm up while your run and there’s nothing worse than overheating…except chafing. Chafing is the worst.
Station your support crew where you’ll need them – the miles through Canary Wharf are notoriously quiet – and have them text you their exact location so that you don’t miss them. The tracker often doesn’t work in the crowds and it might be easier for you to spot them than them to spot you. Find My Friends is a great function to use if you have an iPhone. It might also be worth having them stocked with your favourite gel/energy drink/painkillers/plasters etc or anything you might need – even if you don’t use them it can be reassuring to know its an option.
You might hit the wall. It’s OK, you will come through it. Keep pushing forwards. Even the elites have moments where they are in a pain cave according to Paula Radcliffe – but you have to remember that it will pass. Have a technique that will help you, whether that’s a mantra, a song you can play or a special spectator you can get a hug from!
Have flip flops and your finishers t-shirt ready for you at the finish line. The t-shirts are usually pretty soft and pleasing to wear post race, and your feet will be grateful to be released from the trainers you’ve been wearing for most of the day. You can also establish how many black toenails, missing toenails and blisters you can boast about.
It’s also a good idea to organise somewhere beforehand to meet up with your supporters, a pub or your charity afterparty. If you do meet up at the friends and family meet & greet, then it might be an idea to meet at letter X or Z rather than the more common letters of the alphabet!
Enjoy the post race beer, but don’t forget to hydrate and eat too. After the London marathon in 2012 I had three ciders, then nearly vommed in my friend’s boyfriend’s (now her fiancee, yay!) new car on the way home…