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SPRINT Project London Marathon tips!

Updated: May 9

Are you completing the London marathon this weekend, or do you know someone who is?

This week we are looking forward to celebrating all the brave runners who are taking part in the London marathon on Sunday the 21st of April, and we are sharing some tips that marathon runners can use when the going gets tough!

Image description: A photo of London showing Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament and a telephone box.

For anyone who has ever ran a marathon or half marathon, you will know just how much training, dedication, and luck it takes to successfully make it to the start line. Whether you are running for a charity, made it into the ballot or are an elite runner, the London marathon is one of the world’s top races to take part in, and the experience of completing it will never be forgotten.

Image description: A photo of runners at the start of a marathon.

The feelings that you experience at the start of the London marathon in Greenwich Park – excitement, nerves, and a desire to get going – are quickly replaced by a focus on sticking to your race plan, and observing all the amazing runners, stands, crowds, and accompanying sounds along the way.

If all has gone well in your training, you can rely on your body to get you most of the way around the marathon. But there will come a time for most runners when you need to rely more heavily on your mental strengths and draw on the support around you to get to the finish line.

Image description: A blurred photo of runners running in a marathon.

Read on to find out about the SPRINT Project’s tips to help you to get over the finish line at The Mall and pick up your medal!

1.      Imagine yourself crossing the finish line.

Top athletes use a skill called mental imagery both before and during sporting events to prepare and cope well under stress. Imagining yourself being successful in your mind’s eye can not only give you a confidence boost, but also decrease feelings of worry when you think you might not have enough left in the tank. You can read a previous SPRINT Project blog post on mental imagery here to find out more about this important skill.


2.      Chat to a fellow marathon runner.

Reciprocal and positive social support has a beneficial impact on our health and mental wellbeing. You can just about guarantee that other runners will be experiencing similar things to you – fatigue, aching muscles, feeling like stopping at the nearest burger van, wondering how the man carrying a fridge on his back just ran past you... So, saying hello to another runner and asking how they are doing is likely to not only benefit you, but the other runner too. Check out the SPRINT Project’s dream team page where you can learn about the importance of good social support.


3.      Soak up the amazing atmosphere and support from the crowds.

Focusing on the many sights, sounds and smells around us within the present moment can be a great grounding tool to use when we are feeling overwhelmed or defeated. The London Marathon is renowned for having a fantastic atmosphere and crowd support, with many people shouting runner’s names as they run past, so take stock of this and allow it to give you a much-needed mental boost. You can find out more about mindfulness in this SPRINT Project blog post here and check out this infographic which explains the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 grounding technique.


4.      Tell yourself that you can do it.

Speaking to yourself as you would to somebody you care about can help you push through when your body is tired. We’ve all seen athletes on the TV tell themselves to keep going with phrases like ‘Come on!’ and ‘Let’s do this!’. So be that kind person who tells you that you can make it over the finish line. YOU CAN DO IT!


5.      Make a plan.

Making a plan can help us to feel in control and more able to keep putting one foot in front of the other if we start to feel like giving up. For example, if you are worried about hitting the wall, you can plan to reflect on all of the successful training that you have undertaken to get to the London marathon. Find out more and build your own London marathon If/Then plan on the SPRINT Project’s If/Then page here.


Interested in finding out more about mental skills? Check out all our free resources where you can learn about and practice different mental skills that can benefit you in your everyday life.


The SPRINT Project’s long-term collaborative partners St Basils have a brave bunch of runners taking part in the London marathon to raise much needed funds to support young people who are at risk of or experiencing homelessness. Marvin, a Mental Skills Training for Life™ graduate, is running this year’s marathon. You can find out more about Marvin and his training journey to the London marathon here.

Get Ahead Mindset, who the SPRINT Project have recently collaborated with to evaluate a new sport psychology smartphone app, have shared a London marathon pre-race routine via their Instagram. You can check it out on their Instagram page here!

If like Marvin you are taking part in the London marathon this weekend, we wish you all the luck in the world, and we hope that you enjoy every second!

And remember, when the going gets tough and your legs can’t take anymore trudging through the invisible treacle, rely on your mental strengths and use the tips above!


Do you have any marathon tips that you’d like to share with us? Let us know in the comments below!


Image credit: Canva.

Written by Dr Sally Reynard, Post Doctoral Researcher in the SPRINT Project.

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