Top tips for Edinburgh Marathon
The forthcoming Edinburgh Marathon 2013 is rated as one of the fastest marathons in the UK by Runner’s World magazine, so it’s a perfect choice for first-time runners or anyone determined to achieve a personal best. Here we ask a six-time marathon runner and blogger, Laura Fountain, for her insight on the course, as well top tips for new runners. The Edinburgh Marathon takes place May 26.
In just five years you’ve gone from self-confessed couch potato to six-time marathon runner. What inspired you to change and what kept you going?
Laura: I’ve learned to love running. It’s become a habit now and part of my life. Although I have bad runs every now and again, I don’t feel right if I haven’t been for a run in a few days. Also setting goals and chasing them down has kept me going. First it was running a marathon, then it was running a marathon in under four hours and then it was getting a Good For Age qualifying time for London Marathon. Now I’ve done that the next target is to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
Last year you even released your own book, The Lazy Runner. What’s it all about?
Laura: The book is my part memoir and part guide. It follows my story from novice runner – unfit, clueless about running and incredibly lazy – to finishing my first marathon, and beyond. I’ve kept a blog since I started running, which has been really popular. I wanted to go back and tell my story from the beginning but with the benefit of hindsight to be able to say: “This is what I did wrong and this is what I should have done.”
What’s the most important lesson running a marathon has taught you?
Laura: Marathons have shown me that I’m capable of more than I thought possible. They’ve given me a confidence that I’ve taken into all aspects of my life.
There has been a surge in popularity in marathon running in recent years. Do you believe that anyone can run a marathon?
Laura: I do believe that anyone who is healthy and well can run a marathon. Even if you think you’re too old, unfit or overweight, there’s someone out there who is older, more unfit or heavier than you that has done it. Maybe not this year, or even next year, but keep at it and, yes, you can do it.
What was your training regime when preparing for last year’s Edinburgh Marathon? How should this year’s runners be preparing now with less than 2 weeks left to go before the race?
Laura: My training was less than ideal. I’d been away travelling for four months and although I’d taken my running kit with me it didn’t see much action. I’d run once every other week for a half hour jog at best. I landed in the UK 12 weeks before Edinburgh and had promised a friend I’d pace her round her first marathon six weeks before Edinburgh. That went OK, which gave me confidence but then on my last long run before Edinburgh I injured my Achilles so I barely ran in the three weeks before the race. On the day of the race I didn’t know if my leg would be ok. It was also really hot but luckily I’d been travelling round Australia and South East Asia so I was more acclimatised than most.
It took me two years from starting to run – and barely being able to manage a mile – to finishing my first marathon. There’s always that temptation to sign up to a marathon straight away but it’s a big commitment, so it’s always better to wait until you’re ready.
Training is different for everyone, so it’s important to find the right routine for you and then stick to it. Some people find that running extra in training gives them the right amount of confidence but in my experience I’ve always found that the longest training run of 18 miles is more than sufficient to get you round on the day.
With just two weeks left my advice is simple: Don’t do anything stupid. Take it easy. This is the taper period where your body recovers from the long weeks of training and stores up energy to use on race day. It may feel weird doing less miles than you’re used to but trust the taper.
It’s the night before the big race, do you have a specific routine you stick to?
Laura: The day before I always like to take a walk to the race start so I know where I need to go and how long it will take me. I also lay all my kit out and pin my number to my shirt. This helps me stay calm. I have an early dinner of pizza or pasta and try to get an early night. In the morning my routine (which I’ve honed over six marathons) is half a pint of water when I wake up, then a cup of tea and porridge for breakfast and nothing else until I’m on the course. Everyone is different and this is what works for me. Ideally you’d find out what food and drink combinations work on your long runs and then stick with them for race day.
Having run the Edinburgh marathon last year, do you have any specific tips for this years’ runners?
Laura: My tips and advice include:
– There’s a long out and back section between miles 14 and 21. I used to dislike out and backs but now I enjoy them. You get to see more of the race than just the few meters in front of you and if you know other people running you can look out for them whether they’re ahead or behind you.
– Prepare for all weather conditions. Last year it was unseasonably hot. But a friend who’d run a couple of years before had had rain and cold temperatures. You can’t control the weather so just make sure you have the right kit for any eventuality and take it with you to select from on race morning.
– Enjoy the scenery. Edinburgh is a beautiful city with plenty to look at. Luckily the sites, namely Arthur’s seat and Holyrood Park are in the first couple of miles when you can look around and enjoy them. Running along the coast is nice and, as it was hot last year, offered a nice sea breeze to cool us down.
– Don’t miss the beer tent! Look out for the beer tent near the finish line. Their special “marathon ale” was a real highlight for me!
The Edinburgh marathon route
Edinburgh is a stunning city – and the marathon route takes in the highlights. Beginning in London and Regent Road, it first passes by the historic Holyrood Palace, home to Scottish kings and queens, then through Holyrood Park in the shadow of Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano. You’ll also take in old stadiums, manor houses, idyllic beaches and chocolate-box villages along the way.
Not satisfied with this whistle-stop tour of the city? You could always hang around for a few days after the race and experience Edinburgh in it’s full glory. There are plenty of hotels and guest-houses. The Holiday Inn Edinburgh has some excellent deals on short-breaks.