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Perfect day



My first marathon was an amazing experience. Standing alone in a sea of people on Blackheath in London, I knew I was about to take several thousand steps into the unknown; if I made it to the finish line, that would be success beyond my wildest dreams.

I did have a target time in mind that day, from months of training and two half-marathons, so thought I would be able to make it in just under four hours. My training had been reasonably precise but my approach to the race was simply to run. I had no special kit, no GPS watch, didn’t take on any fuel apart from water, and ran by feel all the way round. I finished in about 3hrs 52mins and – though my initial response to a friend asking if I’d do it again is not really printable – I knew I could target a faster time by approaching the race with a slightly more detailed plan.

I’ve now completed eight marathons (including two as a pacer) and targeted a sub-3:45 and then a sub-3:30. As the targets became more ambitious, the training changed (I actually ran a bit less) but, just as importantly, my approach to race day changed. If you’re running an autumn marathon with one already under your belt, think carefully about your race day, beginning the evening before. What you eat, drink and do will be important, of course, but it’s just as essential to keep your emotions under control so that you can have the experience you deserve on your big day. Here’s my guide to marathon race day for anyone who has put in the training to hit a longed-for finish time.


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About Women’s Running

Ready to take your running off-road? Then make sure you pick up a copy of the October issue of Women’s Running – our trail special. If you’re a complete beginner, you’ll find advice for taking those first steps on the trails and, for the more experienced off-road enthusiasts, tips from the pros – find out how to “ascend like a mountain goat and descend like a demon”. With expert guides to finding the right trail shoes for you, exclusive reviews of the latest off-road shoes and top-to-toe kit suggestions for every off-road eventuality, we’ve also got your off-road wardrobe sorted. And if you’re struggling for inspiration to take your running off road, look no further than our interview with cover star Susie Chan, whose passion for trail running has taken her from the desert to the jungle. Prefer to stick to the roads? No problem. Try our sharp sessions for 10K runners – or, if you’re taking on the longer distance, don’t miss our complete race-day guide for serious marathon runners, packed with all the advice you’ll need on making your race day seamless.