Now that’s she’s completed – and recovered from the race, we caught up with her again to pick up some tips for anyone thinking of taking on the challenge next year. Here’s what she shared with us:
I have the muscle ache, I have the heavy legs, I have the mental and emotional exhaustion, but most importantly I have the medal. I finished.
In the weeks leading up to the 2012 Virgin London Marathon I would tell people that I was only ever aiming to complete it to raise money for charity and that I wasn’t focused on achieving a ‘time’. Secretly however, I was hoping to finish somewhere between 4.30 and 5.30, ideally closer to 4:30.
The flaws within this secret plan of mine were such: if you’re aiming for a particular time then you have to train with that in mind.
Trial and error is a foolproof way to improve. Yes, you will make mistakes once, but [hopefully] only once. With this in mind, here are some tips – you could look at them as the mistakes I won’t be making in 2013:
- Train! Sometimes it’s incredibly hard to motivate yourself to go out for a run after a hard day at work but you really need to.
- Train in your raceday kit: Get your kit sorted and work out how you’re going to use this on race day. Out of sheer panic I tried to (pointlessly) cram a couple of extra gels about my person but had to ditch them at mile one just because they were so uncomfortably placed.
- Get your name or a message printed onto your top: The crowd support on the day is incredible and really got me through some tough points. It’s so motivating to hear your name shouted out – especially when you’re flagging. Print, write or pin your name to your vest. It will make ALL the difference (though perhaps go for a nickname if yours is harder to pronounce – I heard all sorts; Adrian, Arlene, Arlana, Arianney…)
- Gimmicks Employ a gimmick to maximise crowd support. Fancy dress is the cherry on the cake of high-visibility marathon attire, but a natty hat, jazzy running gear or a token to represent the charity you’re running for will do the trick. I heard more ‘come on The Strawberry!’ and cheers for Hulk Hogan and Mr Tumble than I did for anyone else – and it’s infectious.
- Wave! If someone shouts your name and your concentration allows, say thanks!
- Other runners Don’t get de-motivated by the other runners-it’s your race and you have to run it your way.
- Fundraise By hosting a fundraising party, making sure you email friends and family for sponsorship, being active on social media or just touching base with the charity to let them know your story it will all help the charity more than you know. Including Gift Aid, I managed to raise over £1,650 for the Institute of Cancer Research. That fact alone makes everything I have accomplished – including the pain I felt during and after the race – worthwhile.
I finished my first marathon in a respectable 5 hours 30 minutes and 17 seconds (damn those 17 seconds!). It was painful – physically, mentally and emotionally and it was long and tiring. But I finished. And I would do it again in a heartbeat.