Great North Run – Race Tips

This time next week I ought to be sitting in a South Tyneside pub celebrating the end of a half marathon. I’m pretty apprehensive about the event, the travel arrangements are just mind boggling and both me and OGB have decided to just arrive and hope we get dragged in the right direction. Every time we read the official magazine and try and get our head around the details we end up quaking in our running shoes. At least we will get to Newcastle though, my dad has kindly offered to drive us there at the crack of dawn.

I didn’t run at all last week, I thought it was more important to ensure I got over the cold than attempt any endurance training while I was ill.
Now I’m not sure what to do with this week – cram in a long run mid week or just aim to keep the legs ticking over with the mileage low? I suppose I’ll play it by ear and just try and relax.

As for the race itself, I haven’t much of a clue how to play this either. Still not sure what pace to aim for, I’m thinking it’s going to be so crowded back in my race pen that I should just aim to keep going and not stress too much about hitting any specific splits, I can leave that for the *next* half mara. I’ve picked up some great psychological tips for dealing with the Great North Run from the runnersworld forum. XL-man kindly let me repeat his 4in1 race strategy here:

Run 1 – 5 miles (8 km). (DON’T think about anything further) Huge crowds, great atmosphere, bands. Take it steady, not too fast, you’ve run five miles or further loads of times. Enjoy the spectacle, and remember you are part of it. Those inspirational pictures of thousands running across the Tyne Bridge? You’re in them this year. Yes, you’re in the Great North Run, the world’s biggest half marathon. Enjoy!

Run 2 – 3 miles (5 km). Forget the 5 behind you, they’re done. Think only of the next three. Three miles? Piece of cake, you’ve done 9, 10, 11 .. much more in training. These three are all downhill, wheeeeeee !! Great news for those of you after PBs for the event, or even if it’s your first time and you have a target. Go for it here, within reason. Unfortunately, the road narrows, so you may notice it feeling a little more congested. Be careful.

Run 3 – 3 miles (5 km). SLOW DOWN. This is where you need your mental toughness and/or your MP3 player. It’s a bit of a slog up the John Reid Road etc and there’s not much to enjoy, but hey, if it was easy, the medal wouldn’t be as important to you would it? If you’re a run/walk person this is where you may want to be taking extra walks, and psych yourself up, but don’t start thinking about the finish yet. Just get to 11 miles

Run 4 – 2.1 miles (3 km) That’s nowt! Of course you’re tired but you’re nearly there. Now, start to tell yourself that you’ve done it (almost) the goody bag is waiting for you, go and get it. The last mile and a bit up the sea front is fantastic. Huge crowds yelling at you, the end is nigh. Let your spirits fly, even if you’re knackered. You can stop soon. If you’re after a time, push, you know you are fit, you have prepared well, and as knackered as you will feel when you cross the line, the elation will speed your recovery. Well done, you’ve finished the GREAT NORTH RUN 2007

Good stuff eh? Now do I switch the garmin to miles so that I’m in-sync with the road markers or do I stick to what I know?

18 thoughts on “Great North Run – Race Tips

  1. Nikki

    Have a great time at the run! I used to live just at the other end of the road where the race ends and went to watch it every year, maybe next year I will be able to do it too!

    With your Garmin I would stick to what you usually use at they are rarely dead on with the road markers anyway!

  2. SAM

    DO NOT WORRY about fitting in extra runs – you’ve done the hard work now.
    I managed a 12mile run 14 days before my first half. Just afterwards I came down with a flu-like cold. In bed shivers, fever, aching so much I had to take pain killers.
    After 1 week I did 2 miles in the gym – felt rubbish but it was nice not be cold outside.
    3 days before the race I went for a nice 4 mile run. Snot everywhere (TMI). BUT, come race day – with one Sudafed under my belt my legs felt glad for the rest and were fresh and raring to go.
    I loved every minute. Good luck.

    Ooooo – the road markers.
    In the 1/2 I did I found them to be really erratic and DID NOT match my garmin – but the distance at the end was right – so gofigure?!
    Run to the garmin BUT be prepared for the odd surprise. I did a 10K and Garmin said my race distance was 6.44miles NOT 6.2 – so I missed the PB I wanted… grrrrrrr.
    I will always run to the garmin as I trust it distance wise – the markers are too often missing or blocked by people to reply on them.

  3. H

    Stick to what you know on the Garmin – also expect it to lose lock for at least a kilometer early on- there’s a long underpass you go through – it would need super powers not to lose lock there.

    Also remember to watch out for the red arrows – sneaky little beggars creep up at you about 20 minutes after the start and then again at the finish.

    Other tips….
    – There are loads and loads of toilets near the baggage busses – head to them rather than the ones along the dual carriageway!
    – Relax and expect the start to be slooooow – the first couple of city miles are crowded
    – Do not stay in the hotel we did last year near Middlesborough – it was awful!
    – There’s a great chip shop on your way back to the metro station
    – Have fun!

    Looking forward to reading your race report! Good luck!


  4. booyaa

    heya i second sam’s advice. don’t try to catch up on missed sessions, just do a few light runs to keep you ticking over. otherwise you’ll just get sick again.

    good luck next week !

  5. Phil

    The best of luck i will look out for you on the TV 🙂 just make sure you beat Paula Radcliffe.

  6. warriorwoman Post author

    Thanks for the messages folks, I reckon even with the congestion at the start I ought to easily beat Paula, especially now I know there’s a fantastic chippy at the end.

    I’m beginning to think it might be quite fun now.

  7. celeste

    Man, I’m so jealous!! You deserve to be excited – I hope you have an absolute blast!!!

    Ummm, no kanga-shoes for the run then……?

  8. No Wetsuit Girl

    Your work is already done. Don’t try to do a long run this week, it’ll just leave you wasted for the big event. Chip away at the small miles to remind you that you’re still in shape to bolster your confidence and make sure you have TONS left over come the weekend, you’re going to need it! Enjoy the day, and if you ever feel like quitting, tell yourself you never have to do this again for as long as you live if you don’t want to, but ONLY if you finish! The finish line is going to be the most fantastic thing you’ve ever seen in your entire life, better than a keg of Stella with your name on it. Then, when you’re done, have someone carry you to the keg of Stella with your name on it. You deserve it!

  9. Suzan

    Agree with everyone – go for it ! You have done the hard work and deserve the treat of those cheers. Best of british – break a leg!

  10. Seshat

    Thanks for the comment. It did enter my head I might actually be tired, rather than magically lost my fitness overnight. Good luck with the GNR. I went to see it a couple of years ago when a friend ran it. Great event, fantastic people. I hope you love it.

  11. XFR Bear

    All the best for Sunday WW!

    Totally with you on the mental strategy of splitting it into smaller chunks and not thinking beyond the one you’re currently on – it’s got me round stuff when I’d otherwise have given up.

    Plus of course my favourite running mantra, which someone had on a banner at mile 23 of my first FLM

    “Pain is temporary, Pride is forever”

    good luck

  12. warriorwoman Post author

    Thanks for all the messages guys. I’m off now, to start on the massive trip oop north.

    I’ve been told that the curry houses are far better than the chips in South Shields so maybe I’ll have to try both and feed back. There’s also a beer tent at the finish so I’ll sample that as well. It could well turn out to be best race yet!

I'd love to hear from you....