Marathon season is now well and truly upon us and it doesn't come much bigger than this weekend's Virgin London Marathon. Certainly it is the UK's biggest 26.2 miler and is possibly also the world's most prestigious marathon.
It is a race of huge magnitude with elite athletes from all over the world all striving to follow in the footprints of the likes of running greats Paula Radcliffe, Khalid Khannounchi and Grete Waitz all hoping to win one of the world's great races.
Yet, as much as it means to those at the business end of the race, it is also one the biggest days in the lives of the tens of thousands of runners following in their wake. Many of them will be raising millions for charities and good causes that have touched upon their own lives. Many will also be tackling a marathon for the first time ever.
The stomach-churning, bum-squeaking, hairs-on-the-back-of-the-neck raising lead in to the race is exciting, yet hugely nerve racking. Ahead of them lies one of the most painful, introspective, yet joyful experiences of their lives. No-one forgets their first marathon.
Ahead of the big day, we have put together five top tips to ensure first-time runners get maximum enjoyment from their debut marathon:
Load up on carbohydrate-heavy foods in the lead in to race day to get your glycogen stores up to optimum levels. This is the fuel for your muscles - they are going to need all the help they can get. But, do not experiment with any new foods or nutrition just ahead of the big day. Any change to the diet risks an upset stomach, which could ruin your day.
The adrenaline will be surging and the atmosphere will be at fever pitch. Just starting London marathon is hugely exciting with big enthusiastic crowds and it is very easy to get sucked in to running too fast. If you have any inkling you are going slightly too fast you most probably are. Ease down, check your watch and keep to your plan. A marathon is a long, long way. Make sure you feel well within yourself in those early miles.
Dress Not To Impress
Make sure you have tested all your race kit before the big day. Today is not the day to discover your fancy new vest chafes your arm pit. Also pack clothes to keep you war pre-race and post-race - comfortable, familiar clothes.
Don't Be Shy
London marathon is a big deal. That's why the streets are crammed with people, it's live on the BBC and you - the ordinary runner - are what makes it special. You are a big deal. Put your name on your chest of your vest to give people the chance to shout out your name and cheer you on. The crowds will respond and when the going gets tough, it is a huge pep to hear your name preceded by a 'come on' shouted by a complete stranger.
Savour The Moment
On completing the race, enjoy every moment. Reflect upon your training, the commitment, the blood sweat and tears and the huge accomplishment. Shed some tears if you feel like it. The finish line of a marathon is an emotional place, let yourself go. And make sure you wear your medal for the rest of the day, this will be the only day in your life you can get away with it. You deserve your moment, savour it.