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How to train for and run the London Marathon with Rachel Davies

How to train for and run the London Marathon with Rachel Davies


February was a peculiar month, not only did it fly by but felt like we were in the middle of summer with the warm spell and then reality hit that it’s not that long until the Virgin Marathon London Marathon on 28th April. This will be my 3rd London marathon having run in 2016 and 2017 for the charities, Meningitis Now and Meningitis Research Foundation and this year I will be taking part through the ballot.I am actually feeling less daunted this time around even if I may not have done enough on the weekly training miles as I normally would and this is mainly due to time (there had been a last-minute wedding, a big birthday family a trip away to plan in a short space of time) but I have tried to maintain my fitness on the bike while training to a slower pace on foot.  I am not worrying about how fast I have to complete the marathon, as long as I get to the finish line, I will get there when I get there, but like in 2017, I am going to make sure I have fun along the way on the day. 

London Marathon

I find that I can appreciate running and enjoy it when I’m running slowly which is perfect as I look to run into double figures on the mileage and try to follow The London Marathon training plan, occasionally taking my dog Roo with me on my short runs. Sometimes I don’t have much choice when she sees me tighten the laces on my trainers and comes bounding over, pinning me to the wall, her tail wagging in excitement.  Being half collie, half springer she has lots of energy and is happy to trot along next to me and I enjoy her company. 

In the past, I have had a real love-hate relationship with pace and thought I couldn’t really be classed as a runner if I wasn’t pushing for a distance in a certain time and because of this I really lost my mojo which took a while to come back.  Thanks to my friends in the Team Power, R.U.N Marathon Training and Support community whom I met when training for London in 2017, really helped me find my enjoyment for it again.  I run for “fun”, I run to challenge myself, I run to encourage others to show if I can do this so can you and of course I run for the medal, so I am looking forward to meeting up with the group again this year at The Excel centre when we collect our race numbers and timing chips then gather at the start line on Sunday, some in fancy dress or in colourful running gear like my Primal Alpine Camo leggings. The buzz and excitement of the event as the helicopters hover above, the tv crews wonder about looking for people to interview, the last-minute dashes to the loo and the fancy-dress costume adjustments made before the big countdown in the coral as the gun goes off.

Rachel is ready to run!

If you are one of the lucky ones taking part in your first marathon this year, whether through ballot, charity or in the case of one of my colleagues, totally unaware his wife had signed him up until he received the ‘Congratulations You’re in’ magazine, then you will probably be feeling a mix of excitement and nerves, 26.2 miles (or 28 if you end up weaving in and out) is no mean feat.  But just remember on the day to make sure you enjoy it, don’t get carried away at the start and push off too fast then blow out halfway along the course and miss seeing what’s around you. A number of my friends have said they missed seeing the iconic buildings, the World Record attempt runners, the iconic rhinos, and a lot of things that make this event so special and so much fun because they had their heads in the zone to complete the event in their planned time that they trained so hard for. The thing is we all have a perfect scenario in our heads and we try to train for this so you expect the race to go accordingly.  This was me in 2016 until my fate at mile 12 on Tower Bridge with another runner meant I hobbled over 14 miles to the finish line and I hadn’t accounted for this situation in training, I just spent a lot of time leading up to the day trying to avoid people with colds and bugs. When  I collected my medal I told myself I needed to run it again  so it could be like I had planned, flawless and not letting those I was running for down, I was annoyed and angry with myself for not being able to complete the marathon how I had trained and planned for, that I couldn’t accept my achievement for a long time which now sounds a bit ridiculous but after pouring our hearts and soles (pun intended) into getting the preparation right, I couldn’t have it any other way,  but 26.2 miles is the same distance however you manage to get around the course.  In 2017 I made sure I took a memory from each mile, high fiving other runners and spectators, laughed with people along the route and I loved it.  Having gone to support a friend and cheer on a cousin in 2018 which happened to be the hottest VLM on record I told myself there was absolutely no way I would run again….and here I am! I can’t help myself.

Running in hoody

You have to be disciplined when training for a marathon and in my own humble opinion, this comes into its own if you can train a few times over 13 miles. On the day If you need to walk, do it and use the crowd to your advantage to help pull you through when you can, you won’t be short of encouragement as the streets are lined 5 deep in places with spectators cheering you all on and the noise is incredible in places. I remember in 2017, one lady yelling ‘go on Rach. You’re nearly there’ I was at mile 3 and she has spotted my name on my running vest, she had me laughing and little things like calling your name can really spur you on.  Don’t forget to put on your best-run face as you run by the TV camera crews along Cutty Sark. 

As you pass by you will run along the residential streets to the sound of reggae and dance music playing from the balconies and pubs before arriving at Tower Bridge, you’ve hit a major landmark, it will feel amazing as you turn off the bridge with the roar of cheers and clap of the crowds as they carry you round into mile 13 which then becomes is a bit of a mind game, that’s when you run alongside the other runners at mile 22 in the opposite direction, just a barrier and a number of stages set up to entertain the crowds to separate the distance. Those runners are 9 miles further than you and closer to the finish line, they look strong.  As you make your way towards mile 15 the road gets sticky as the hundreds of half sucked energy gels from the feed station are strewn along the floor for a least a mile. You begin to notice the handmade signs people are holding up ‘this is a lot of work for a free banana’, “We Thought They Said Rum” or something about toenails.

Banana signage London Marathon

Mile 18 is when it gets loud, as the crowds gather along the streets around The Quays, the noise of the steel band echoes up the buildings as you pass by but there are still 8 more miles to go. You may wonder how some people manage to still run effortless, you will see other runners looking exhausted and you may even begin to feel a little overwhelmed or spurred on by seeing the determination of the charity runners, military and emergency service all travelling the same distance and route as you push through. Their pace, their run.  You look behind you and see a rhino coming into view and if you have been counting how many you have seen already, by this point it can turn into a game that keeps you going, do you want to be overtaken by a runner in a giant fibreglass suit. The choice is yours and you may even shed an exhaustive tear, go on, it's allowed, even in front of thousands of people cheering you on and it's not daft nor silly.

By the time you reach The Embankment you are on the home run, everything hurts but you get a boost by the crowd and you get a second wind, someone may hand you a banana and right now you don’t care about taking food from stranger,  Your second wind is enough to make to the Mall, you may even hear the Karaoke runner coming into earshot singing 500 miles, he must run an ultra-marathon with the constant back and forth entertaining everyone as he goes singing by.   You see a sign ‘600 meters’ to go, and  there up ahead is Buckingham Palace coming into view, then the 200 yard sign, quick get your game face on, smile for the camera, the world is watching and you find that last little bit of energy and determination to break into a little sprint to get across the line to the smiling faces of the stewards handing you a medal and a goody bag….and that’s it, you’re done, just like that. You stop and look around spotting a few strangers who have for that fleeting time along the route been your running friends and you give each other an exhausted pat on the back and go and find your letter zone to meet your support team, your legs not knowing if they should be walking, still running or resting and even though you have burned off all those calories and run over 56000 steps, all you can think of is..Prosecco…or is that just me and what your official time was before checking the mountain of good luck messages you received on your phone.

 

You are now a marathon runner and with a shuffle and a painful manoeuvre up and down the underground steps through the tube station you wow never to run a marathon again, you will probably tell every other marathon runner on that tube holding their see-through bag and medal the same thing, “I am NEVER EVER doing that again”. But don’t worry, this is only a temporary feeling.  You will be back!

London marathon medalist

Post marathon you can pop on your recovery gear like the Primal Camo, Alpine or Stone Cropped Leggings, don your Panda Socks, your oversized marathon finishers t-shirt and your Primal Shasta Traceuse hoody and relax a little, you’ve earned it.  Unless you have to go to work then you better be sat at your desk with that medal retelling the story of the run to everyone who walks by.

Whatever you do, make sure you enjoy race day, after all, you have trained hard for the event and this is your victory lap, your run, your #happytrail so do it your way.

Until next time.

Rachel