Advice about tackling the Edinburgh marathon

Edinburgh Marathon Festival

Edinburgh marathon 2015

After spotting a tweet from @UKRunChat this morning I thought I would share my experiences of Edinburgh marathon. 

I'm taking a year out from marathon running to focus on my shorter distances but I've ran Edinburgh marathon in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2014 and during these years I've had all sorts of weather.
I've battled heat waves, hailstones, gales and downpours. I'm sad to say, I don't think I've had the perfect conditions once and unfortunately, I don't think this weekend is going to be any better for all those who are running. 

The forecast

The forecast is looking wet and windy for Sunday which is a shame but nothing you can do about it. The wind direction on Sunday is forecast to be West-South-West which means the wind will behind the runners on the way out from Edinburgh. This will be nice for the first 16 or 17 miles but it does mean the final 9 or 10 miles will be in to the wind. 
It is also forecast for heavy rain during the time the marathon will be on so no chance of overheating! 

My advice

This is only my advice from my own experiences of this course and it's what I would be thinking about if I was running it. Don't blame me for anything that happens before, during or after the race because of something I have said here. Take it with a pinch of salt if you wish.

Before you leave the house.

  • Guys. Put plasters on your nipple - this will prevent a wet vest or T-shirt chaffing your nipples. Even if it's not raining, do it. You'll thank me later! You'll only make the mistake once! 
  • Remember any energy gels / food you might be planning on taking during the race!
  • Don't try anything new just because someone has told you something is a good idea (except the advice about plasters!). If you haven't tried to before today, it's too late.
  • Make sure you are hydrated, it might not be a hot day but you're still going to run 26.2 miles, hydration is key.
  • Know your fueling strategy before you start and try and stick to it. 
  • Make sure you know where the fueling stations and toilets are on the course, even if you don't use them, it's something to focus on when things get tough.
  • Be prepared to adjust your finish time. I've made changes to my finish time on the start line. 

The race starts at 9:50, so make sure you give yourself enough time to drop off your bags at the trucks. Don't leave it until the last minute. If you are worried about getting cold and wet then you have a couple of options.

  • Wear an old sweatshirt or Tshirt which you are happy to throw to one side just before you start. If you do throw it away, make sure you get it right to the side and not in the path of other runners.
  • Get a large black bag, cut a small hole in the bottom. Put your head through that hole and wear it like a Poncho. Again throw it to one side before you start.

The start.

  • Join the toilet queue as soon as you can. Even if you don't need, by the time you get there, you probably will. 
  • Make sure you are in the correct starting pen. 
  • It'll be busy, don't panic! There is plenty of time to get in to your stride and target pace.
  • It's downhill at the start. Don't go off too fast. Watch out for miles 2 to 4, they are fast! It's going to feel really easy and comfortable, don't be fooled in to thinking you can bank time in the tank by going faster than you've trained for. You're going to need that extra energy later.
  • The wind is going to be behind you for 17 miles, it's going to help you all the way out to the turning point but again, watch your pace, try and not go faster than you have trained for.

During the race.

  • Don't get carried away with the crowd and other runners. If people start passing you, don't panic. During the Edinburgh marathon there is also a team relay taking place. Some of these runners passing you at super fast pace are running the relay. Don't try and run with them! 
  • The wind is going to be on your back for the first 17 miles, don't up your pace just because it's making the run feel easy. When you turn the marker at 17 or so miles, your going to need all your energy to focus on keeping your target pace in to the wind all the way back to the finish line....I know I've said this already but it's so easy to make this mistake. I have! 
  • Try and relax, the more relaxed you are the easier the race is going to feel. Enjoy it! 
  • When things start to get tough, maybe about mile 19 or 20, focus on your posture, remember your training, don't let the weather or anything else get you down.
  • Make targets in your head, tell yourself you are going to keep running until the next water station / fuel station, then once you get there make another target, just chip away at it and before you know it, the finish will be in sight.
  • When running back towards Musselburgh into the wind, shelter behind other runners of similar pace, but take it in turns. Don't let one person do all the work, they will need shelter at some point as well. Work as a team and you'll all benefit from it. 

After the race.

  • As much as you will be wanting to stop and not take another step. Keep moving. Your legs will be full of lactic acid and the best way to get rid of that is by walking. Walk as much as you can, it really does help!
  • Get food in your body as quickly as you can, you've just ran 26.2 miles, your body needs fuel, even once you have finished. 
  • Celebrate! You've done the training, you've finished the race now it's time to celebrate with friends and family. 


Owain Williams

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