Are you dreaming of conquering the London Marathon but unsure where to start? As running coaches passionate about “running the world,” we are here to guide you every step of the way, from securing your entry to mastering your race day performance. Let's dive into this comprehensive guide to ensure you make the most of your London Marathon experience!
How to Get Into London Marathon:
Securing a spot in the London Marathon is akin to winning the golden ticket, given its reputation for a fun, big race and, of course, as one of the World Marathon Majors. Here are a few ways to gain entry:
Ballot: Each year, thousands of slots are available for public registration. Keep an eye on the official London Marathon website for announcements regarding the opening of the lottery registration. However, we want to caution you that if you are NOT a UK resident, the chances of winning Willy Wonka’s Golden Ticket are more probably than entry by winning the ballot, aka lottery.
Charity Entries: This is the most common choice for runners outside of the UK. Several charitable organizations offer guaranteed entries in exchange for fundraising efforts. This is an excellent opportunity to contribute to a cause close to your heart while securing your place in the race.
Good for Age (GFA) entry: This option is only for UK residents and is akin to the Boston Qualifying time that folks in the US are usually more aware of. Residents of the UK that can provide proof of a qualifying time have the GFA entry as a solid choice to gain entry to the London Marathon.
Official tour operators: Consider tour operators for guaranteed entry and a supportive group experience.
Training for the London Marathon:
Training for a Spring marathon requires dedication, consistency, and a well-structured plan, but if you are training in a part of the world with heavy snowfall in the winter season, it can be even more challenging. As a coach, here are some tips to help you prepare for the London Marathon:
Start Early: Ideally, begin training at least 16 to 20 weeks before the race day. This allows for gradual progression and reduces the risk of injuries.
Build Mileage Gradually: Gradually increase your weekly mileage, incorporating long runs, speed workouts, and recovery runs. A mix of different training types will enhance your overall fitness.
Make the treadmill your friend: While many runners love to hate on the treadmill, it is quite possible that with heavy snow days, a treadmill is the only way you can get in your run. Change it up while on the treadmill with inclines, pace changes, and binging some fantastic tv shows or movies. Need a couple of recommendations? The podcast will drop a London marathon companion with a couple of movie options.
Cross-Training and Rest: Incorporate cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga to give your running muscles a break. Additionally, prioritize rest and recovery days to prevent overtraining.
Practice Fueling & Hydration: During your training runs leading up to the London Marathon, use them to practice your fueling and nutrition strategies. Experiment with different types of energy gels, sports drinks, and snacks to understand what works best for you during long runs and ensure you have a solid nutrition plan for the race day.
Feeling sluggish? Keep this workout in your pocket and break it out when you need a bit of fun with your miles!
Race week and day logistics:
Where to stay: Very much like New York City, Tokyo, and Boston - London starts in one location and finishes in another. So a point-to-point race does require a bit more flexibility. While some folks like to stay close to the start line, others love to stay close to the finish line. You can’t go wrong in London as transportation is truly a dream! Very easy to get around, so choose the location you prefer. Coach Christine stayed steps away from Tower Bridge, the halfway point, and it was “not too far” from either start or finish, but instead felt “just right.”
Expo: London’s Expo is on par with NYC and Boston, so if you love seeing some of the running celebs and want to soak in the runner’s atmosphere, this expo will be a great one to pencil in a bit more time.
Sightseeing: If you want to do some sightseeing, sign up for one of the boat tours. Sensing a theme? Well all of these majors have great river tours! So why not take advantage of it!. They book up quickly on marathon weekends, so reserve yours soon!
Race Day: This is what you trained for, so toe up to the start line and get ready to enjoy some of the best costumes and crowds you will ever experience.
The London Marathon is an incredible journey that requires dedication and preparation. With a dash of good luck, consistent training, optimized race week preparation, and a sense of adventure for race day, you'll be well-equipped to conquer the London Marathon with confidence and pride. So, lace up your running shoes, embrace the training, and get ready to cross the finish line triumphantly!