The London Marathon: Tips for Marathon Day

Sue Lambert in 2001 London Marathon

In advance

  • Go the the exhibition and register early – if you go on the Wednesday or Thursday there is much less of a crush.
  • This year Orange will probably again be offering free texting of your race by 10km segments to 3 nominated mobile numbers – the link will be provided when it is available. Note that it may be difficult to retrieve the times from overseas mobiles.
  • Recce the start, and the finish.
  • Make sure you get plenty of rest in the few days before the race, and drink lots of water. You can't get any fitter by doing long runs with 2 days to go, but you can make yourself tired.

Clothing and kit

  • See our London Marathon Packing List
  • Never wear anything new on the day. Wear shoes and clothes that you are used to wearing and are comfortable with. By all means keep a special race kit that makes you feel good: but never wear it for the first time in a race.
  • Put your name in large letters on the front of your vest: the crowds will be able to support you all the way.
  • Pack your kit bag the night before. Make sure you take a bin liner or an old t-shirt which you can use to keep warm after you have handed in your kit.

Transport to the start

  • There are free trains to the start from Charing Cross, Waterloo and London Bridge. It is much better to go to Charing Cross, since the trains are often full by the time they reach Waterloo or London Bridge.
  • You need to plan how to get to Charing Cross on the day. If you are staying a long way out, beware that many tube lines will not be open.

The first mile

  • The most common mistake is to start too quickly. This can be disastrous for your overall performance. Start at the pace you can maintain all the way round.
  • Don't spend the first mile trying to weave your way through the crowd of runners in front of you. However many people you overtake, there will always be more in front slowing you down. You use up a lot of energy trying to pick your way through. Better to go at the same pace as the others, and use the first mile as a warm up. The field will thin out in time, and you'll have plenty of time to get back on your target pace.
  • Don't go to the first toilets you come to, unless there is a crisis. The ones further along will be less crowded.

During the race

  • Enjoy it! Don't forget that the point of the day is to have fun.
  • Keep well hydrated. A small degree of hydration has a significant effect on performance. By the time you feel thirsty, it is TOO LATE. Drink before you get thirsty. Try to drink lots of water in the 3 days before the race, and cut down on tea, coffee and alcohol (all of which tend to dehydrate). Drink often and little from the very start of the race. Practice this in your training.
  • Don't drink or eat anything that you haven't tried in training. If you are going to drink Liquid Power during the run, then make sure you train with it. Otherwise you may find your stomach rebels. Lucozade gels and sports drinks will be available at 5 refreshment stations (at the 4.6, 9.8, 15.3, 19.7 and 23.7 mile points) so you may wish to consider using these products in training.
  • Get your supporters to have banners – it makes it easier for you to spot them in the crowd. And agree with them in advance where they are going to be. Try to get someone to support you in the long, lonely Isle of Dogs stretch.

The finish

  • Replace lost fluids by drinking lots of water, fruit juices or sports drink. Try to get some carbohydrates down you: bananas, pasta or bagels.
  • The finish is always very crowded. Make sure you know EXACTLY where you are going to meet your family and friends, and leave yourself plenty of time for getting away.