David Connell's top tips for marathon running



Ballot places for the 2021 Virgin London Marathon, taking place on Sunday 3 October, were announced on Monday 8 February. Some were successful and are now looking forward to joining 50,000 other runners who plan to toe the start line of the world’s most iconic marathons this Autumn, but many more will have been unsuccessful and pondering next steps. 

The great news this year is that, following the success of the first “virtual” London Marathon last October, the event organisers have decided to include a virtual event again this year and 50,000 runners from around the world will now be able to apply to join the runners in London on the same day to run their own marathon!  

David Connell, Director of Sport and a competitive runner of 35 years with 7 marathons under his belt shares his top tips and advice on how to prepare for, and run, a successful marathon. 


Tip 1: Be in it to win it 

Make sure you make the start line! It doesn’t matter how much (or little) training you do, if you don’t make the start line because of injury or illness you can’t run and finish the race! So, make sure you do all you can to stay healthy and actually get to run the race! 


Tip 2: No such thing as being over-prepared 

Start training early. You can’t be over-prepared for a marathon and a long, slow, gradual build up will always be better than a short, rushed one. If you’ve been successful in gaining a place for London then start to do some short, regular training runs by March and give yourself 7 months to build up for the big day. 


Tip 3: Less is more 

Keep it simple. Running is a VERY simple sport. If you train sensibly, set SMART goals and progressively overload your body with training you will get faster, be able to run further and stay injury free. Many people will tell you there are complicated training methods that will bring greater success but the basics of how people train for running haven’t really changed in thousands of years. 


Tip 4: Running doesn’t have to be lonely 

Join a running club and train with other people! Running can be a lonely sport but it doesn’t have to be. There are running clubs all across the UK that welcome new members with open arms. For less than £100 a year you can gain access to experienced coaches and training partners of all abilities that can help you make the start line, and you’ll make friends for life too! 


Tip 5: Don’t hit the wall, stay energised 

Practice your fuelling for the race in long training runs and work out what works for you. If you fuel properly with energy gels / drinks you will NOT hit the dreaded wall and you can run strong and maintain pace all the way to the finish line! 


Tip 6: Don’t push yourself too hard 

Run even pace – always! It is impossible to “bank” time in a marathon and if you try to you will always slow in the 2nd half of the race. So, train smartly, know your race pace and run every mile at the agreed pace. If you do this, you will be able to run the whole way and keep the pace going to the end! 



If you’re interested in getting into running or training for next year’s London marathon, get involved in Active Students - it's fun, free and a great way to stay fit and active! 


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