Top tips for running a marathon

Posted on 22/03/2019 by Guest Blogger
in the Ways to help blog

One of the many ways you can raise funds to help us protect animals is running a marathon - it's a big challenge, but we're here to help and support you!

Running a full marathon can seem like an insurmountable task, especially if it's your first time. If you decide to run a marathon to support our work in protecting animals all over the world, we'll be there for you at each step, supporting you and cheering you on.

We caught up with our team member Miranda, who is a keen long-distance runner and has run the London marathon twice. She has shared with us her top tips for running a marathon, from training to post-race care!

Over to you, Miranda...

Photo credit: Bruno Nascimento

Training tips

To help keep myself motivated this I try to build my training into my everyday life so that it becomes second nature. For example, I take my running kit with me to work and run from work to home a couple of times a week.  On my last run, I achieved seventeen miles!

There are a few things that I find help to keep me motivated whilst on my long runs home:

  • Music – I cannot run without my music. It has to be something that you enjoy for me the cheesier the better – on my playlist I have Spice Girls and S Club 7. Or you could try one of the many running playlists on Spotify to suit your music taste!
  • Running buddy – This may not be for everyone as some people may prefer to run solo, however, if you do have days when you need some company it might be a good idea to find a running buddy. This really helps me to keep going as it's great fun and motivation

My biggest tip for when you are training make sure that you are already running in the trainers that you want to wear on race day. Running the 26.2 miles in new trainers is not a good idea as you will get horrible blisters!

Image: Miranda and George, World Animal Protection team members, on a training run.

Maranoia is completely normal

As you get closer to the day you may start to find that you are worrying about everything little thing to do with the marathon - this could be anything from a scratchy throat, which you might think is the first sign of a cold, or a niggle in your knees. You might even begin to doubt that you can even get to the start line let alone to the finish.

Please don’t panic. You have what is called Maranoia (marathon + paranoia) which is completely normal. This happens to everyone who is about to face a big challenge like a marathon! Nerves are normal and will help the body to prepare for the task ahead. It is a good idea to incorporate some relaxation activities into your preparation: going for a massage, taking a yoga class or just spending some time with your friends can be a great distraction from the World of Marathons.

Image: Miranda spending time with colleagues before the marathon


When it comes to raising the funds for your charity there are many ways you can achieve this. It might seem like quite a large task but with a bit of creativity, you will soon reach your target! As a first step, I recommend setting up a fundraising page that you can share with family, friends and work colleagues. 

The most important thing about fundraising is to make it fun and enjoyable. It is also a great opportunity to get creative!  There are lots of great events that you can do to raise the money: bake sales, a pub quiz, or a fundraising night out. Another great option is to set up a bucket collection at a train station or event.

Photo credit: Kaitlyn Chow

Preparation is key

There are a few small things that I like to do the night before the race - having these ready will help reduce stress on the day:

  • Pin your number to your shirt and secure your timing chip to your trainers.
  • Pack your kit bag for the finish.
  • Lay every item of your running kit out - even the socks (you don’t want to be hunting for a clean pair at 5am!).
  • Don't forget to charge your phone!

Race day tips

Race day has arrived and you are feeling a mixture of excitement and fear. I would recommend getting up nice an early as you want to give yourself plenty of time to have a proper breakfast and not be rushing. My go-to race brekkie is a bowl Weetabix, but other options could be a bowl of porridge or toast with peanut butter and jam.

Some runners choose to wear a bin liner to keep warm until the race starts, however, these tend to get thrown away all over the place when the race has started. I personally don’t think this is great for the environment. Try a foldable jacket, or check if your race collects hoodies and coats at the starting line to donate to charity (the London Marathon does this).

A big tip for when you get over the finish line is not to stop moving, because your muscles might seize up after the great effort you've just gone through. Keep walking, even if slowly - I'd recommend to arrange meeting a few friends after the race, to celebrate your huge achievement!

Photo credit: Mārtiņš Zemlickis

Plan your recovery

So you have run a marathon (maybe your first one) - congratulations! Now comes the hardest part, for me at least. Regardless of how fit you may be, you will be tired after running 26.2 miles and you will need to allow your legs and body to recover.

Here are a few things that I find help with my recovery:

  • Ice  baths – These are not very pleasant but they will really help your legs and muscles, if you can sit in the Ice cold water for as long as you can then when you can you can’t stand it anymore drain the bath and flush your legs with hot water for a couple of seconds as this will help to relax your muscles.
  • Book a pedicure – After running all that way your feet and toes might be in a sorry state. Don’t be surprised if you have a few black toenails! I would recommend pre-booking a pedicure for one day after the race.
  • Another favourite of mine is a nice relaxing foot soak - for this I use Epsom bath salts (these are also great for aches during training).
  • Book a day off  - Although you will be dying to show off your finisher’s medal to your colleagues, if you can, it might be a good idea to book a day off from work on the following Monday as you might not even be able to walk down your stairs! After all, you deserve a day off to sleep, celebrate and watch Netflix.

Photo credit: Pixibay

I hope that these tips will be useful. Best of luck for the race most importantly don’t forget to enjoy it and keep smiling!

Want to get involved?

Check out the many different ways you can fundraise for animals