Completing a marathon is a terrific achievement - with the Dublin marathon on Sunday, we have ten handy marathon tips of what not to do on the big day you've spent so long training for.
Like with our handy list of gym tips, preface all of these with the word 'don't':
DON'T read too many articles about 'how to do the perfect marathon'
Don't stay up to 3AM frantically flicking through fitness magazines and scrolling frantically through the ten thousand fitness and/or running apps you've downloaded in the last day. Of course you can always pick up handy tips from these articles but in reality if you've done the training don't panic, use your common sense and enjoy the race. You've done enough long runs at this stage to know what works for you.
DON'T wear too many clothes
It might be a bit nippy at the start line, but don't turn up wearing a beanie, gloves, tights, an extra t-shirt and your granny's knitted sweater. You heat up extremely quickly during a marathon and this isn't Siberia. You might have to contend with rain at some stage, and light gloves might be handy initially as heat gets lost from your extremities. If it's a dry day and you're cold halfway through a marathon you might need to pick up the pace just a tad.
DON'T fly off like a mad thing at the start
You're feeling good and you've had a good night's sleep. After breakfast, a bit of a stretch and some positive visualisation you are ready to smash every single yard of these 26.2 miles. After two miles, you're wondering what all the fuss was about and waving to the adoring crowd, enjoying the bounce in your stride. But just remember that there's a hell of a long way to go until the finish. Deliberately hold yourself back in those opening miles when the adrenaline is pumping and your legs yearn to burn some of that nervous energy - you don't want to be that mug everyone else is passing in the second half of the race.
DON'T suddenly decide to shave your legs the night before the race
We've taken this one from one of the greatest athletes in Irish history. 1983 5000m world champion Eamonn Coghlan took the decision to shave his legs the night before the 1976 Olympic 1500 metres final and later described how it affected his preparations:
I'd assumed the shaving process would take fifteen or twenty minutes, half an hour at most, but late that evening I was still in the bathtub, hacking away at my bloodied legs. It had taken over two hours and I'd nicked myself countless times.
Lads and ladies, better to be happy and hairy and bare and bloodied. Besides, it'll keep you warm in the cold October air.
DON'T panic if you've given into temptation and got chipper the night before
You have (hopefully) trained extensively for this race and should have a fair idea of how your body feels on long runs after eating different variations of dinner the night before. Chances are you have had the odd pizza or Chinese on a weekend evening and, more often than not, felt no different on your long run on a Saturday or Sunday. So if you feel like a treat on the night before the marathon or you really can't be bothered cooking, don't panic when you wake up on race morning and realise what you've done.
DON'T guzzle energy gels like it's going out of fashion
These gels are dead handy in the middle of a race and provide a timely boost if energy levels are low. But don't suddenly ditch the humble banana or fruit gum just because it's a race - a handful of jellies you get off some kind stranger at the side of the road are just as good as the packaged slime that you'll doubtless receive in your race pack. A couple of gels are fine, but don't overdo it or your stomach will start to wonder what's going on.
DON'T spend too much time looking at your watch
Yes, glance at it every so often to check where you stand and to encourage yourself/urge yourself on. No point in thinking you're ticking along nicely only to get overtaken by some guy in a cow suit. But don't become a slave to your watch or panic if you're falling behind schedule. Your body has a remarkable ability to recover mid-race. If you feel sluggish and slow in the first part of the race there is every chance your body will get used to the rhythm and, if you've timed it right, be able to move up the gears as you go on.
DON'T get embarrassed if you're overtaken by someone in a costume of some sort
OK, so we referenced the cow suit earlier. But if you are feeling good about yourself and moving nicely only to be overtaken by Bananaman just as you move into the important part of your race, don't despair. Suck it up. Only a few people will have seen it and hopefully none of them are people you know or ever see again. If, just as you pass your family and friends and put on your best heroic grizzled face, some caped crusader whizzes past you, you'll just have to hope that the slagging dies off after a few years. You'll probably have to do another marathon just to shut them up, unfortunately.
DON'T get over-excited by the '25 mile' sign and the last-stretch crowds
You've done brilliantly so far and you're convinced you've got one Mo Farah-like kick left in your legs to overtake the lad in front who you've been chasing for ten miles. But make sure you time it correctly. Balls.ie once saw someone ahead of them go sideways in the last few hundred metres of a race. Yes, sideways.
DON'T forget to enjoy it!
You have trained incredibly hard for this, sacrificed hours of comfortable nights in front of the couch and your friends think you have morphed into some kind of deranged mountain goat. Enjoy it! Even if you don't get the time you want, make sure you have a post-race pint or slice of cake or whatever you enjoy and toast your achievement. Enjoy your new-found sentence opener ("when I was training for the marathon...") and your new office status as 'the fit guy'.