The build up has already started, the numbers have been posted out and everybody involved will be totalling up those last minute miles as we build up to the greatest half marathon in the world.
But if it’s your first time, what should you expect, what tips can you pick up?
Without further ado, here are my top ten tips ahead of the Great North Run:
10. Don’t change anything!
From your breakfast to your kit, don’t change anything! You’ll be used to your meal, the feel of your kit and the routine you go through before your run – that the best way to think of it, it’s just a long run…except that it’s with 50,000 other runners or so.
9. Get to your Area early!
Last year, I made the foolish and rookie error of jumping on the Metro (the tram/rail service up here) at 10am and forgetting that my pen closed at 10:30am. Check the back of your bib to see what time the area you’re in closes its gates. Don’t panic if you’re late, you’ll just be left to queue outside until the other’s get going and the packs start to get a move on.
8. Warm up
If you have a good 10-15 spare before you join your group, go for a brisk jog somewhere. The start line wont leave without you! Plus, if it’s fresh in the morning – which it will be, it’s the North East, we don’t really do warm – it’ll be good to get the leg muscles and the body fired up, set the focus levels and prepare. Last thing you want to do is pull a muscle just as you start or during the run!
7. Embrace the crowd
I don’t mean, like, hug everyone – you can if you like, but some might find that weird. What I mean is, the pens are crowded and it’s going to be busy, so be prepared to be either squashed or sharing your space with about 10 people around you. If you’re claustrophobic, it might be worthwhile queuing outside the pen or try get a spot next to the railings.
6. Always be prepared
Last year, I don’t think anyone expected it to be that warm to run in. Had I known the sun would be out for most of the route, I would have bought a cap to run in. This year, it’s been forecast to rain and be cold so that means you’ll need to don the waterproof ponchos and old leggings to keep warm and dry, you can always chuck them over the barriers as they get collected and donated. I’ve never experienced it, but I can imagine it wouldn’t be the most pleasant feeling standing in the rain with just a vest and shorts on – that’s asking for flu or worse if you ask me!
5. Know where your family/friends are
Two reasons why I’ve mentioned this: One is so you know where your group of supporters will be during your run – there’s nothing greater than seeing people you know along the route and it’s a huge lift. Best place to get them to stand? Along the John Reid Road, the toughest part of the course.
Second, is so you can locate them after your run. You’ve just ran 13.1 miles so the last thing you want to do is be walking around looking for loved ones in a sea of about 10,000 people. So beforehand, pick a place to meet them. It could be at The New Crown (the pub at the corner next to the tents), next to Gypsies Green Stadium, the lettered flags for meeting finishers and probably the best option, get them to find your charity tent, if you’re running for one that is. Anywhere where you can definitely find the people you’re looking for.
4. It’s not a race!
Since I can remember, I used to watch the start of the Great North Run every year. There would always, and I mean always, be that one muppet who decides to absolutely leg it at the front and burn out after 60m – yeah, don’t do that! It’s not a race so go the pace you feel most comfortable at, it could be 6 minute miles or 15 minute miles, just focus on getting around in one piece and don’t feel disheartened if you need to walk for a bit too!
Like any other distance even, there is always a certain area of the course that provides a challenge. It could be an uneven path, gravel or even a grassed area. The Great North Run routine, however, provides a couple of nasty little hills just to test your will and legs out – particularly the climb after passing Heworth Metro Station and the hill leading to the Marsden Inn. There’s information on the ‘Downloads’ section of the website. I’ll attach a PDF of the course map below.
Yep, this is a biggy. You need to keep as hydrated as possible for running a big event like this. Drinking well the day before is key, I feel but it doesn’t mean you should be cramming litres upon litres of water in such a short space of time, that’ll leave you with a thing I call ‘jelly belly’ the sensation when your tummy makes a sloshing sound when you move, plus it may leave you feeling a bit bloated.
On the day of race, I wouldn’t drink any more than 500ml a good couple of hours before the run and then tiny little sips from then on if you need to and the same when you come to the water stations but don’t take the Lucozade unless you’ve been using it for your training!
Tip. Don’t take water from anyone other than water station marshals.
It’s a fun run, so have fun! Soak up the atmosphere and drink in the experience! If you’re running for a charity or not, remember all the hard work you’ve put in for 12-16 weeks has come to this and it’ll be worth it. Once you get your meal and t-shirt you’ll know.
That pint/glass of wine will taste so much better after too!
Good Luck and enjoy!