10 tips for your first Manchester Marathon: do’s and don’ts

We recently asked our social media followers what they would tell those who are challenging themselves to their first ever marathon, and they came back with loads of great advice.

If you are about to tackle your first ever 26.2 miles on Sunday 10th October then listen up!

1. Don’t get too caught up on your target finish time. Whilst it was good practice to set yourself a target pace during your training, listen to your body on race day. It will be sure to let you know if you set off too fast or if you have more fuel in the tank near the end of the race! Remember to keep an eye on your watch and choose a steady pace, but don’t forget to soak up the atmosphere around you!

As @simon.six.star.runner says: “Don’t get hooked up on times. We all get a medal at the end of the race so be proud of how far you’ve come.”

2. Practice your hydration strategy beforehand. Drink lots of water in the days leading up to the event in order to make sure your body is fully hydrated. Little and often is best! By doing so, you can avoid the need to down gallons of water on the morning as this will only lead to you needing plentiful toilet breaks!

3. Get in a strong positive mental mindset. Yes your legs are one of the most important parts of your body when running a marathon but you need a healthy mindset to believe in yourself and know you are able to complete this. Ever heard of hitting a brick wall? Setting up that positive attitude and self-belief can help avoid this happening.

@Mayankgulaty sums it up perfectly in her comment: “Keep clear in mind why you are doing this in case you hit the wall, it’ll help you to overcome it. Moreover, enjoy each and every second of it. See you all there 😊”

4. Review the route in advance. We recommend our interactive route map in this case! You don’t need to remember every street but remembering certain landmarks on the route helps you gauge how far in you are. We also recommend your supporters review the map so they can plan where is best to support you and where to meet you afterwards to give you a congratulatory hug.

5. Take your tapering seriously! You will notice that a majority of training pans encourage you to begin tapering 1-2 weeks before race day. This allows you to make sure your body remains in good shape and uninjured before the main event. Cramming in any additional mileage won’t make any difference other than tiring your legs. As a general rule first time marathon runners are recommended to taper down to 50% of their normal mileage with two weeks to go, and then 25% in the week leading up to race day so the body is fully recovered and ready to go.

6. Stick with what you know. Come the morning of marathon day and it is easy to panic and completely forget everything you had practiced in the lead up. Now is not the day to experiment with a big breakfast you’ve never had before a normal run, or cram a huge bowl of pasta in the night before if you never normally have pasta the night before a long run, and definitely do not change your shoes to a new pair you haven’t trained in!

As @russpm commented, “Don’t do anything on race day that you haven’t done in training. Also don’t set off too fast, it’s easy to get carried away with the occasion. Don’t forget to enjoy it!”

7. Get a good night sleep. We know we aren’t saying anything new when we say sleep is critical to your body’s recovery during your marathon training, but it really is essential for good immunity protection. However don’t worry if you don’t sleep well the night before the marathon – trust us, no one does! – as studies have shown that the sleep a runner gets two nights before the race has the biggest impact on runner performance come race day.

8. Put your name on your t-shirt or write it somewhere on your race number (if it isn’t already printed on there). It really does make a huge difference when someone is shouting your name in encouragement, be it a friendly stranger or a familiar face! Especially when your legs are feeling tired and your spirits are flagging, that little push is exactly what you’ll need.

9. Keep your head up. Not only mentally, but also physically. As your body gets tired towards the end, you may find your head starts to droop and you look more at your feet. Not only might this cause some neck and shoulder tension, but your spirits might also flag as you aren’t taking in other runners or supporters, or the entertainment we are providing to get your energy high! Keep your head up and stay positive and confident.

10. Most importantly… ENJOY IT! There is so much to see, so many like-minded people to talk to, supporters out in force to cheer you on, music to keep you going, and charity cheer stations to raise a smile. Put all of your training to the test, make it all worthwhile and be super proud of yourself. We can’t wait to clap you across the finish line!