Remember all those weeks ago when you first signed up to a marathon? You thought it was going to be fun! But as race day draws near, thanks to intensive training, more spaghetti than you could shake a stick at and a slightly irrational fear for your life, it’s easy to forget the reason you signed up in the first place. Here’s how to step up to the start line with a smile on your face and ensure you have nothing but fun.
Say your name
The first step to a guaranteed day of fun is proudly wearing your name emblazoned across your chest. That way, strangers will be able to personally cheer you on and it will make you feel like a bona fide celebrity. After you’ve been running for a couple of hours you’ll be glad of the extra support. If you’re reluctant to ruin your favourite running vest, then write your name on your arms or chest in felt tip pen and work those crowds.
Think fun thoughts
It sounds simple, but it’s true. Unless you’re one of the elite runners (in which case stop reading this and get training!) chances are you’re an amateur runner and you probably aren’t going to win the race. This means the pressure is off, there’s nothing riding on your success, so all you need to do is enjoy yourself. Raising funds for charity, personal accomplishments and winning that bet you made with your mate Dave are all valid reasons to run a marathon, but the main one should always be fun! You’ve done your training; all that matters now is finishing with a smile on your face. So rock up to the start line with positive thoughts on your mind and remember to have fun.
Employ your family and friends
Never underestimate the power of a familiar face on race day. Get your mum, uncle, cousin, work colleagues and mates to stand at strategic points along the course and remind them to cheer their heads off. Once you spot them if you feel like stopping for a quick hug, do it. Marathon running is an emotional business. Seeing a familiar face in the crowd will fill you with joy and those smiles will propel you to keep on running when your legs feel like giving up.
Ride the wave
For the majority of us running a marathon usually only takes a few hours, but regardless of your time those three to eight hours of your life will be an emotional rollercoaster. Your mood is likely to veer dramatically from drowning in misery to sexy rock star working the crowds. If your mood starts to dip and a sense of doubt creeps in, remember to ride the wave. You will be feeling on top of the world again in a few minutes. The ups and downs are all part of the magic of race day.
Smile at every camera
It’s a little known fact that the facial feedback effect of smiling triggers a positive emotional response in your brain that instantly makes you feel good. But more importantly, if you smile like a rock star every time you see a camera, your post race pictures are going to be a damn sight better. Those cameras dotted along the route? They aren’t just for elite runners. They are there for YOU (and will no doubt inundate your inbox with dodgy running photos the week after race day) so smile! You’ve put the training in; now it’s time to reap the rewards. Work that marathon route like it’s the red carpet and you’re a famous rock star. This is your moment to shine.
Dress to impress
It’s a proven fact that wearing fancy dress guarantees extra loud cheers on race day. Just watch the crowd’s reaction to that giant flamingo/fridge/dinosaur as it ambles past. And we all know that extra loud cheers equal speedier legs. Wear something funky and work those crowds.
Embrace the jelly baby
Along with familiar faces in the crowd and the kindness of strangers, small things can make a big difference on race day, so come prepared and harness the power of sugar. A few sweeties secreted about your person will provide a perfect energy boost when you need it the most. Offering sweets to weary looking strangers will also have a positive impact on your mood. To avoid sticky pocket syndrome, wrap your jelly babies in tin foil.
Engage with the crowd
Crowd support is a two-way process and getting the best out of the public requires more from you than simply running. To receive the loudest cheers and a much-needed adrenaline boost, throw your arms in the air, make some noise and watch their reaction. It’s worth playing to your audience if you need a pick-me-up as the noisiest runners are guaranteed the loudest cheers.
Remember you're special
Only 1 per cent of the UK population has ever run a marathon, which makes you pretty special. Now is the time to bask in the glow of your success. Have fun!