Deputy Vice-Chancellor has London Marathon advice
Date: 24th Apr 2019
Buckinghamshire New University's Deputy Vice-Chancellor has plenty of advice for runners gearing up for this weekend's Virgin Money London Marathon after completing the event 20 times, including acting as a pacer for celebrities from BBC Radio 1 DJ Greg James to BBC newsreader Sophie Raworth.
Professor John Brewer has a personal best of 3hr 8mins for the 26.2-mile event, which this year is expected to attract more than 42,000 runners, has written for many running magazines, and penned a book on marathon running, Run Smart, which has become an Amazon best-seller and has just been released in China.
"For anyone running, as we are now entering the final few days before the Marathon, the critical thing is to prepare physically and mentally for the race, especially if it is your first marathon," said Prof Brewer.
So, here are his top tips to ensure everything goes smoothly when runners are on the start-line at Blackheath for this year's official starter, tennis star Sir Andy Murray, to get the event under way.
- Write a list of everything that you will need on race day morning, including your all-important running number, safety pins and even your running shoes.
- Don't be tempted to race in something you have never worn before when running. 26.2 miles is a long way, and you need to be comfortable as chafing will soon lead to abrasions, blisters and bleeding.
- Ease right back on your running. Training in the last few days will make no difference to your performance and now is the time to let your body recover from the miles you have put in so that you are ready for the big race.
- Include plenty of carbs in your diet. These are stored in the muscle and liver as glycogen and will provide most of the fuel you will need to complete the distance.
- Stay properly hydrated, especially if the warm weather we have been experiencing continues.
- With a couple of days to go, stay off your feet as much as possible and keep carbohydrate-based snacks such as bananas and jelly babies close by to top up your energy stores.
- Plan your journey to the start well ahead of time. The London Marathon has three starts, red, blue and green, and the colour of your number will tell you which one you are starting from. The ideal route to the start is by train but the best train stations differ for each start line.
- Don't forget to collect your number from the London Marathon Running Show at ExCeL London the day before the Marathon. There is lots to see and do at the Show, but avoid spending too much time on your feet.
- It's probable that you won't sleep well on the night before the marathon - but don't worry, you won't be the only one, and no-one has ever fallen asleep running the London Marathon.
- Plan your race day breakfast carefully - don't eat anything you aren't familiar with and take a snack with you on the journey to the start as there is a long wait before the gun goes.
- You must have a target time in mind that is sensible and achievable, based on your training and any races you have already run.
- Equally important is the need for a pacing strategy to achieve your target, based on a sensible minute per mile target that you know you can sustain. Far too many runners get carried away each year by the excitement, and set off too quickly, only to suffer badly, or even very badly, during the final stages of the race.
- Once you have crossed the finish line in The Mall, enjoy the moment, and start your recovery by rehydrating and refuelling.
Then, what does Prof Brewer suggest for once the race is over?
“You will have taken almost 40,000 strides to complete the 26.2 miles so you will have sore legs for two to three days after the race, as well as a few blisters and will possibly have said a sad farewell to a few toenails,” he added.
“Don’t worry though as you will soon recover and be ready to face your next challenge!”
Follow Prof Brewer on Twitter. Prof Brewer has also acted as a London Marathon pacer for TV presenter Susanna Reid, actresses Amanda Mealing and Helen George, and journalist and current affairs presenter Sian Williams.
Pictured: Prof John Brewer.