1) Think about it first. Decide on an event far in the future so you have plenty of time to train, even if it snows all the sodding time. Do not just win a place in a competition with 10 weeks to go.
2) Build your distance up slowly, or you will be unable to stand up or sit down without making old people noises.
3) Do your longest run twice, even though your plan only says once. This advice was given to me by a sports masseur who had run 120 marathons, 47 of them in different countries. He was right. I did my first 20 mile run on ice, with a massive freezing headwind. It was so awful it was funny. The second 20 mile run was an absolute doddle after that, and knowing I'd managed it twice gave me some confidence in believing I'd be able to finish. This was crucial, given that a massive proportion of running is in the mind.
4) Do not use the start of the Marathon as an opportunity to learn how to wee standing up through a cardboard funnel. You do not want to run 26 miles covered in piss.
5) Take Imodium before the off. Running and nerves are a powerful combination, and there are way too many pictures on the Internet of people who have not followed this advice. It is not a good look.
6) Try and get your estimate of your finish time as accurate as possible. I don't know what I said I expected, but I was in pen 8 of 9 at the start. I looked like I was the only one who hadn't got the fancy dress instruction on the invitation, and really struggled to move at my own pace throughout the run.
7) High five as many kids/drunk cockneys as you can. High fiving while running is one of the best feelings in the world.
8) Expect people to do odd things that are not necessarily conducive to running. There will be a story behind how everyone ended up running that race, that day, and they may want to wear a ridulous costume, record their thoughts on a dictaphone, text their Mum or film their sweaty face while running for posterity. The winter evenings must simply fly by watching that footage.
9) Don't believe anyone who says "The crowd will pull you through the last bit". I was thoroughly fed up of the crowd shouting at me by about mile 19. I wanted them all to go home and leave me alone to suffer in peace.
10) Remember the last mile is always the worst, when you think it will never, ever end.....but it's all worth it for that first step over the finish line. Even if it is a bit wobbly.
Cheers to everyone for their support of You can still send a donation to them here.
And, of course, massive thanks to parkrun and Lucozade Sport for their amazing prize. I will probably forgive you one day....
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