Whilst unfortunately I won’t be putting any of this into practice over the weekend, I thought it might be a good time to dish out some of my marathon tips as we head into a busy period with marathons in Manchester, London and Norfolk on the horizon. 

Here are six things to think about as you approach your big day. 

Shoes/race gear 

Try not to obsess over what shoes you’re going to wear. It’s completely normal to do exactly this and it’s probably a way of directing some of the natural pre-race anxiety that exists. However, when it comes to the marathon it’s best to make the most sensible, but perhaps not exciting, choice possible. That means choosing a pair that you’ve done some miles in (but not too many) to know they’re unlikely to cause you any issues. As for other kit, wear what you wore on your long runs as long as you didn’t experience any problems. 

Tough it out 

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but there is likely to come a point where the race becomes really difficult. At some point the adrenaline wears off, the crowds thin and it’s just you against the course. This normally happens any time after around 16 miles but of course it can happen earlier if you haven’t got the pacing right. Again, that’s totally normal – and a lot of the other runners will be going through exactly the same thing. It’s good to have a plan about what you’re going to do when these moments arise – what are you going to tell yourself? Personally, I like to tell myself that ‘this is tough, but you’re tougher’. 

Tell yourself a story 

This is probably just the writer in me but the day before an important race, I like to write a few notes about how I want the race to go. I find it helps to nail down things like the fuelling strategy I’ve got planned and if/when I’m going to try and pick up the pace. By no means are you bound by it but in what can sometimes feel like an intense environment during a race, I find it helps to have a reference point to fall back on to keep you centred and prevent you from panicking. 

The inner monologue 

Be kind to yourself, particularly during the race. It’s a pretty amazing thing to run a marathon and no amount of progress you’ve made since you started your running journey should detract from the fact you’re running 26.2 miles – it's a long way. If things aren’t going your way in the race keep your head disciplined and don’t let yourself spiral. It could just be a rough patch, which happens, and within a few minutes you could be feeling a lot better. Be relentlessly positive – it helps! 

Achieving your goals (or not) 

The fact you’ve got yourself to the start line is something to be celebrated so don’t ruin it by putting too much pressure on yourself. No-one cares about your time as much as you do, and I mean that in the nicest possible sense. If you don’t get the time you want, or the event doesn’t go as you planned, then the world keeps spinning – most of your friends will be planning next week’s runs by Sunday evening. If it doesn’t go your way it can also act as brilliant feedback for how you’re going to go about it next time... because there will be a next time. 

Enjoy it 

The most important piece of advice. Try and take in everything; the journey to the race, the memories you’re going to make with fellow runners, the sense of achievement whatever your result. Running a marathon can be an amazing experience; try and be grateful for the opportunity. 

If you’re running Manchester this weekend, I sincerely hope you have a great race. I’m looking forward to cheering from the sidelines and celebrating my friends’ successes afterwards.