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5 women on what they wish they’d known before running their first marathon

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon

From over-fuelling to race management, here's what all runners need to know.

You're not imagining it; everyone – or at least that's how it feels – is currently training for a marathon. And apparently, there's a pretty major one taking place this weekend.

We're obviously talking about the London Marathon, which takes place on Sunday, 21 April and will see around 48,000 people weaving through the city.

Here, we spoke to six incredible women about what they learned from running their first marathons, plus their top tips for anyone taking on the London Marathon this weekend:

Runner: Emma Bishop, 39, Ambassador at Newfoundland Diagnostics, ran her first marathon with incurable stage 4 EGFR lung cancer and raised over £115K for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon

First marathon: London 2023 Marathon

What I wish I'd known: You can over-fuel rather than under-fuel, which I was not aware of. I over-carbed, which caused me terrible indigestion and I ended up vomiting more than once in front of the wonderfully supportive spectators, definitely ruining a few of the other runners’ photographs. Sorry!

I didn't realise quite how impactful the experience would be and I was overwhelmed by the crowd support on the day, it really does pull you through the difficult moments.

It’s worth noting that even when it's over, you will never stop talking about it.

Top marathon tip: Do not over-fuel, and remember to smile at the cameras!

Runner: Aisling Gray, 41, Transformation Coach

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon

First marathon: London Marathon 2012

What I wish I'd known: The London Marathon is a magical race that can make your marathon dreams come true – or not!  Get to your pen early so that you find yourself in a spot that you're happy with.

If you're chasing a particular time, this is really important as it is a crowded race, and you will find it hard to overtake people during the first few miles.  Expect your first few miles to be slightly slower than you're capable of – it takes some time to find your groove through Blackheath and Woolwich before you find yourself with more physical space.

Top marathon tip: Bring flip-flops to change into after your race. You will want to remove your trainers as soon as possible and release your poorly swollen feet!

Runner: Erin Brown, 21, Student

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon


First marathon: Edinburgh Marathon 2023

What I wish I'd known: Having any kind of issue in the first half is not as disastrous as it feels in the moment – there is plenty of time and miles left to take a deep breath, readjust, sort out the issue and get back on track.

Top marathon tip: Stopping to take on fuel, recover your breath or splash water on your neck will not cost you time – it will save you in the long run. Get ahead of small problems when they first appear instead of ignoring them until they take over. You’ll thank yourself in the final miles.

Runner: Josephine Snee, 29, Specialist Public Health Nurse

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon

First marathon: Barcelona Marathon 2024

What I wish I'd known: On the days before and after the marathon, it's best to rest and eat. I did neither particularly effectively, unfortunately, and paid the price. The day after, my legs swelled up like two huge barrage balloons. This didn't stop me from walking (hobbling) 10k around the streets and sights of Barcelona’s gothic quarter in search of the best cake and coffee. I got so many funny looks, which at the time I thought were looks of admiration ( I was wearing my marathon tee), but on reflection, were probably looks of concern and horror over my fluid-filled knees.

Top marathon tip: Get to the start line/entry with a good amount of time before the start of the race.

Runner: Frankie Edwards, Senior Account Executive

5 women on what they wish they'd known before running their first marathon

First marathon: Brighton Marathon 2023

What I wish I'd known: Food is your best friend. Running puts so much strain on our bodies and uses a lot of energy, so you must fuel your body correctly; I made the mistake of not eating enough before my marathon. The adrenaline can make you feel that you aren't hungry or don't want to eat, but my biggest piece of advice is to make sure you eat regardless. I also wish I had more faith in my ability, you have done all the training and are more prepared than you think, just have faith that your body and the crowd will get you through it.

Top marathon tip: Enjoy it, and make sure you have your name on your top! I regret not taking in the crowd and feeding off their energy during my first marathon. Everyone is so supportive and random people shouting your name gives you the boost you need to get through. A tip to distract you from the distance is reading some of the signs and posters in the crowd, some of them are hilarious so it's a great distraction.

Are you thinking of signing up for your first marathon? Check out our beginner's guide to running, our round-up of the best running shoes (as tested by a triathlete), and the best running watches. If you don't fancy pounding the pavements, check out our guide to the best at-home treadmills.

For more from Glamour UK's Lucy Morgan, follow her on Instagram @lucyalexxandra.