London Marathon 2017: Meet The Experts

I found out that I’m running the 2017 London Marathon on Wednesday Feb 1st (which you can read all about HERE).  It was very exciting and I can’t wait to run it as part of the Reebok team.

On Saturday February 4th I was lucky enough to go to the London Marathon Meet the Experts day at Westminster Central Hall.  It was a great day and was attended by a record 1,300 people.img_9052


The day was structured really well with 15 minute talks from each of the experts.  Here are my notes from the day.  A lot of great tips for London Marathon and some great general tips for marathon running too:

Geoff Wightman : Coach & VLM Announcer

The day began with an Introduction from Geoff Wightman, who has been the London Marathon commentator for the past 25 years (apart from one year when he ran it himself).

He opened by telling us that is was 11 weeks, 1 day and 23 hours until the start on London Marathon 2017.  Very exciting and a bit scary for everyone running it.

  • Don’t forget your bag, timing tag & number that you’ll be given at the exhibition….a lot are handed in at the exhibition as people lose them.  You have one job!
  • At the start line there will be free water, lucozade sport, tea & coffee.
  • There are 100’s of 1000’s of toilets; including female urinals (no idea!?)
  • When you go to the toilet before the race queue, go, then queue again.
  • Bag trucks only accept bags given to you at the exhibition (this is a security measure most races do now).  Make sure you’ve put your number on it and tie the drawstrings before you give it in (when I helped out on a bag truck a lot of people were too shaky to tie the bags- just ask someone to help you).
  • In the pens at the start line you can move down pens but not forwards.
  • The race starts at 10am precisely but bear in mind that it can take up to 25 minutes to get across the start.
  • There are toilets every 2 miles; water every mile & gels at 14 & 21 (try before if you plan on using the lucozade gels).
  • Your running number will get you free travel on the Underground on marathon day
  • The crowd of spectators has grown massively over the years:
The same spot in 2016
  • If you’re wearing a costume make sure you practise running in it (nothing new on race day!)
  • Plan where to meet your friends & family afterwards.  The mobile signals are very busy due to over 100,000 people in a square mile so don’t rely on your phone.  There are lettered flags on horse guards parade for meeting points – hint – flag ‘xyz’ is usually pretty quiet.
  • Ballot entry for the 2018 London marathon is open May 1st to 5th!

Hugh Brasher : Event Director

  • The crowds are all there to support YOU!  Put your name on your vest & you’ll have 100’s of 1000’s of people calling your name & offering total unequivocal support.
  • It will be one of the best days of your life.img_9014
  • London Marathon is 100% not for profit.  Over 11 million has been donated in the last 3 years.img_9015img_9016img_9017
  • London Marathon likes to support the community & you can get involved too through parkrun, Goodgym & The Running Charity.
  • 59.4 million was raised for charity in VLM 2016!
  • Get involved and use #ReasonToRun to spread the word of your reason to run.
  • The top 3 tips from the event director:
    • Put your name on your top.
    • Practise your nutrition strategy.
    • Don’t try anything new on race day!

Shannon Foudy : The Millionth Finisher

  •  Shannon went from couch to marathon from mid-Jan to April.
  • She didn’t sleep the night before (which is a problem for many runners) so get a good sleep in the week before- especially 2 nights before the marathon.
  • It’s the only time it’s ok to take sweets from a stranger 🙂
  • Shannon felt pretty broken at the end so get that training in to prevent that happening to you.
  • Top tip: Enjoy it.  It will be difficult.  There will be highs & lows but you will get round with the help of the crowd.

Dr. Josephine Perry : Sports Psychologist Consultant

  • Fear only holds us back…following G.P.S pushes us forward:
    • Set the right Goal
    • Get properly Prepared
    • Build confidence form previous Success
  • Plan for ‘what ifs’.  Write down your worries and plan for how to prevent them and what you’ll do if it happens.
  • What if… you hit the wall: do longer runs in training to build your confidence; use distraction techniques, practise mental techniques you can use on race day.
  • Pre-plan your travel & have a plan B.
  • Schedule out your pre-race routine on race day: kit, breakfast, travel, bag drop, toilet break, warm up etc.
  • Have a relaxation technique to use when you need it.  On race day go sit quietly away from other runners close your eyes & remember why you’re running.
  • Use previous successes to boost your confidence.  This will help reduce anxiety.
  • Feel fully prepared.  You’ve trained and mastered the skills needed.
  • Write down your strengths.
  • Have a mantra that’s positive and matters to you.  Here’s some Mantra ideas: your goal/reason to run; motivation to finish; end of race treat etc.


  • Create a confidence booster and keep in wallet/kit bag. fridge:


Kerry McCarthy : Runners World Commissioning Editor

  • Runners World supply the pace team for VLM.
  • A good pace helps you conserve energy to keep going.
  • Don’t start too fast! You will pay for it later in the race if you do.
  • Set a realistic goal keeping in mind how training has gone.
  • Build up your half marathon performance, to estimate marathon time double that & add 15/20 minutes.
  • There is a predictor on the Runners World website.
  • Listen to your body throughout the marathon.
  • Look out for the pacers and bear in mind that if you join them later in race you crossed line at different times.
  • Expect the pacers not to be on pace for first 2 miles as it can be quite congested.  They will make up for it in the later miles to make it across the line in their specified time.

Basait Siddiqui : Gogglebox


  • If you usually run with headphones be prepared for not needing them on race day.  You don’t want to miss a second of the amazing atmosphere & support all around the course.

Martin Yelling : Marathon Coach

  • 98% that start the marathon make it across the finish line.
  • Most people finish the marathon in over 4 hours


  • What is your aspiration?
    • How much time, commitment, energy can you give?
    • Don’t over promise and under deliver – it’s much better to be generous so you can achieve or over achieve & be proud of your achievements on race day.
  • Your priorities now:
    • 3 runs a week
    • Have a routine that works for you
    • make it habitual
  • Next up:
    • progress your training gradually & appropriately
    • Training is very individual so don’t worry too much about what other people are doing.
    • Make a little progress each week so you get fitter and stronger slowly


  • The long run is the most important part of the training plan.  Martin starts training to time and then switches to miles later in the plan.
  • Do your longest run 3 weeks out 18-22 miles (although I’d say 2-3 weeks).
  • Your minimum weekly runs should be 1 easy run, 1 session/pace run & 1 LSR.
  • Your Marathon build up:
    • February: Be Consistent & get strong
    • March: Understanding pace & go longer
    • April: Last long run & concentrate on survival (keep fit & healthy).  And Hold yourself together!
  • On Tapering:
    • Do less- not more.  All the hard work is done.
    • Keep routine & keep running just drop volume.
  • Top tip:
    • Don’t start too fast!
  • It will all be worth it come race day!

Vassos Alexander : Sports Presenter & Author of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now: 26.2 Tales of a Runners Obsession’img_9034

  • After a marathon eat anything you want- enjoy it!
  • Don’t be a slave to the training plan; life gets in the way so don’t worry/stress.  Do most of it and you will be good.

Anita Bean : Sports Nutritionist


  • There is no perfect nutrition thats right for everyone.
  • When you get into training the main differences are:
    • You need more energy.
    • You burn a lot of calories but it is not a license to eat whatever you want.
    • You need to match energy intake and output.img_9036
    • You’ll need more carbs when training.  The longer & harder you train the more fuel you need for your muscles.
    • You’ll need more protein for muscle recovery & repair.
    • You’ll need more fluid to stay hydrated.
  • It’s ok to run fasted if it’s under an hour and is low intensity.
  • During a run if it’s under an hour you’ll just need water; for over an hour consume 30-60g of carbs/hour.  Start fuelling after 0-40 minutes then every 20 minutes.
  • Experiment to see what works for you in training.  Don’t leave it till last minute.img_9040
  • Hydration:
    • Stay hydrated.  Drink 1.5l – 2 litres a day.
    • There are no strict rules.  Drink to thirst.
    • Drink little & often.
    • Practise your race day hydration strategy during training.
    • Do a urine check.  Keep an eye on colour, volume & odour


  • 3 R’s of recovery:
    • Rehydrate
    • Refuel (2 hour recovery window is important if training twice a day- if it’s only once a day it isn’t quite so critical).
    • Rebuild – have protein for recovery & repair.


  • Race week:
    • Carb loading may improve performance (stats show it does with most runners in the last 2 days pre-race).
    • Stick to plain & familiar foods.  Don’t try anything new.
  • Day before:
    • Eat little & often.  Avoid a big blow out meal.
    • Nothing new!
    • Avoid spicy/high fibre foods.
    • Stay hydrated & avoid alcohol.
  • Race day:
    • Hydrate.
    • Fuel with a high carb breakfast 3-4hrs before the race.
    • Have a carb rich snack 45 minutes before.
    • Stick to what you’re used to!
  • During the race:  Fuel & hydrate little & often.IMG_9043.jpg

Fundraising Masterclass

  • Don’t stop fundraising on race day.  A lot of money comes in 3-4 weeks post race.
  • Keep it personal.  Find out what £10/£20 etc pays for with your charity to motivate people to donate.
  • Keep your page updated with your training.  Let them know about the tough & early runs!
  • 60.9% of money raised is from links on Facebook so keep publicising your fundraising page.
  • 8am-11am on a Monday is the busiest time for people donating so make sure you’re sharing your page at these times.img_9044img_9045

Sophie Raworth

  • Sophie runs for her health, head & because she can.
  • It can be very serious if you drink too much- it causes hyponatremia (insert link).
  • Sophie finds it best to take a couple of sips of water at every water station.
  • Sophie & Susie Chan are doing all the majors.  They have just 2 to go!  “It’s amazing what you’ll do for the bling!”
  • Don’t cut corners during training- you can’t hide.
  • You’re not half way till you reach 20 miles.
  • Pace yourself and don’t trick yourself into going too fast.
  • The marathon is a mental battle so be prepared for that.
  • Sophie is now getting into ultras- you can eat cake & walk during an ultra! 🙂



2 Comments Add yours

  1. Iona says:

    Thank you so much! I didn’t get to attend this event but I cannot tell you how helpful this is 🙂 thank you for taking the time!xx


    1. iranhereblog says:

      You’re most welcome- I’m glad you found it helpful.
      Good luck in London xx


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s