Over the last few years, I’ve written for Run247 about the odds of finishing the London Marathon (see here). And as you can see, they are still great odds. The updated stats below (see tables at the bottom of the article) show that even in the hottest fours years of the event (1996, 2007, 2011 and 2018) the finish rate didn’t dip below 98%. These are great odds and mean that you have a GREAT chance of finishing.
So how can you avoid being part of the (just under) 2% who get to the start line but don’t make it to The Mall? Here are my nine top tips:
- Train well. Ah – just realised we are a week away from the event. If you haven’t trained properly (or haven’t trained at all) you may want to consider deferring until 2020 (assuming you can do so – if you deferred from 2018 you can’t do it again)
- Don’t get sick in the days leading up to the race (more advice on this here). You obviously can’t guarantee this but improve your odds. Wash your hands regularly, stay away from anyone who is unwell, eat healthily and get as much sleep as your life allows
- Plan the few days and the last few hours leading up to the race. Do you know where you need to be, what you need to do and what you need to think about? Write a list now and tick it off
- READ THE RACE INSTRUCTIONS. I make no apology for using capital letters. At most events that I do, in chatting to people, at least one person admits they haven’t read the race instructions. Putting it bluntly – that’s stupid. With an event the size of the London Marathon you REALLY need to know what you are doing. Go to the website and read them now. Then read them again a couple of days before the race. Make sure you add the relevant information to your list in point 3
- Check your kit in advance (an hour before you have to leave for the race isn’t in advance)
- What are you going to eat in the 24 hours before the race? Where will you eat? When? This week is not the time to try a new diet…… Make a plan.
- How are you going to get to the race? Make a plan then build in extra time. The weather is looking fine at the moment so if you end up having a sit down for 30 minutes before the start, all the better. If you are coming by train, allow 30 minutes from the moment the train arrives to getting into your start area. Then allow 15/20 minutes per toilet visit (it may well be quicker) and allow time to hand in your bag. I recommend getting there in enough time to relax and enjoy the buzz.
- Make a plan for the race. Chances are you will go slower than your plan but less chance you will go quicker. Busting yourself for the first 10k will come back and bite you in the last 10k. When I raced as a pacer in 2012 we did the first and second half in 2.24.56 / 2.24.23 – with that steady pacing the results stats showed in the last 7k of the event we passed 1400 runners and only 22 passed us. Aim to get to half way and feel like you could have been quicker
- When it gets really tough (and it probably will) think about your months of training; think about the friends and family who not only came to watch the race but supported you in training; think about the hundreds of thousands of spectators who lined the route encouraging you and 40,000 others along; think about the people who can’t run 100 metres through illness or physical limitations – bet they’d love to be doing it; if you are raising money for charity think about how collecting that money will feel even better on Monday 29th April; think about the one person that you will encourage to be a little more active after this; and think about how proud you should be of yourself.
Enjoy every moment. I know I will.
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