The London Marathon Experience

It's difficult to put into words, but VOOM runners share their marathon experiences...

Callum Robinson
By Callum Robinson

29/05/24

Share this Article

We caught up with some of the VOOM community who took on the London Marathon 2024 to hear first hand how they event was, including the atmosphere at the London Marathon and how they chose to fuel and hydrate. Introducing...

 

Jane

 

 

Victor

 

 

Lisa

 

 

Holly

 

 

Rach

 

 

What's the London Marathon atmosphere like?

 

Jane - The atmosphere was electric, just buzzing with excitement.

Victor - The atmosphere in London is just electric from start to finish, massive support, positive energy and love from the supporters, words can’t describe it, you have to experience it for yourself to understand.

Lisa - The atmosphere was extraordinary and spectacular all the way around. This is my 4th London and have never experienced anything like this before.

Holly - The atmosphere was electric... The noise level is almost overwhelming. Crowds on every stretch of the marathon course is unlike any other event I have done. You can't help but get swept up in all the excitement and buzz!

Rach - The atmosphere was like something I’ve never seen before. There were over 53,000 people running London Marathon this year and at the start line, you could sense the levels of excitement (as well as nerves) from everyone. I’ve also never ran a race with the same amount of crowds that London had. There were very little parts of the race that had zero crowds so I felt so supported and encouraged the whole way around the course.

 

Was it your first London marathon?

 

Jane - My second London Marathon, completed in 2023.

Victor - This was my second time and my second ever road marathon. I have been lucky to run it twice thanks to Black Trail Runners.

Holly - I completed the London Marathon for the second time, all in support of Breast Cancer Now. My first London marathon was in 2022, alongside Mel, my co-founder at Her Spirit. That year was particularly challenging; we wrapped up our "Lakes to London" campaign by swimming 5K across Lake Windermere, cycling 300 miles to London, and then running the marathon.

Rach - Yes, first one. I’ve tried for 3 years to get in through the ballot but I managed to get a charity place this year to race money for Beat, an eating disorder charity in the UK.

 

What's your effective marathon nutrition & hydration plan?

 

 

 

Jane - I previously uses tailwind and gels but since trying VOOM at Black to the Trails last year I have been incorporating it more. 1/2 orange Beta Blast bar, 3 green Electro Energy bars and 2 berry Caffeine Kick. I ate the orange VOOM before and at the start. I planned a piece of a Pocket Rocket every 20mins and it went well with the Electro Energy and then I alternated 2 pieces of the Electro and 1 Caffeine Kick, which worked very well. I also sipped on tailwind and water from all the water stations. Around 22 miles I ate half a protein bar.

Victor - I had a simple strategy which I practised in training, I alternated every 25 minutes between a VOOM Beta Blast energy bar and 40g carb gel with sips of water at every aid station. I also had some Electro Energy Bar in the later stages to top up my electrolyte levels. It worked really well for me!

Lisa - My nutrition was a combination of VOOM Caffeine Kick, Lucozade, Water, shot blocks and salt and vinegar hula hoops!

Holly - Having participated in multiple endurance events, I always make sure to eat well and start carb-loading a few days prior to the event. On the eve of the London Marathon, I prepped with 500ml of electrolytes and repeated the same the following morning. It's easy to begin an event dehydrated or low on salt.

Before leaving the hotel, I had a double serving of porridge and a banana, and I consumed a 30g gel 15 minutes before the start. During the marathon, I carried a hydration pack filled with VOOM Hydrate (Orange & Mango) and grabbed water along the course. To maintain my carb and electrolyte levels, I alternated between VOOM pocket rockets and flavorless gels every 45 minutes. In the final hour, a Pocket Rocket caffeine bar gave me a much-needed boost!

Rach - I knew there were plenty of water & sports drink stops along the route so I didn’t carry any liquids with me. I packed 2 of the Voom Pocket Rocket bars as these were what I had used throughout my marathon training block. Every 30-45 mins, I took a square from the bar and it kept me fuelled and full on energy.

 

 

Was there anything you’d do differently in future?

 

Jane - Not use Tailwind!

Victor - In terms of the experience, nothing , it was simply amazing. In terms of the run itself, I would strength train a little bit more in the build up, my quads were not as strong as I would have liked in the latter stages to hold the pace I wanted so I suffered a little bit, but it’s all part of the learning process with marathons.

Holly - I was really happy with my fuel strategy. I have used all these products in training for a while now and understand how they work for me and when to take them. However I wasn't feeling 100% the week leading up to London and ended up with an asthma flare up 24 hours before. I need to look at my approach to tapering more closely as I seem to pick up unwanted bugs in that last week before big events.

Rach - I started off the race far too fast! I usually don’t do this but I just got carried away with the atmosphere and didn’t realise I was running quite as fast as I was. This hindered my performance later in as I got to 15km and my legs were tired and heavy so it was a bit of a slow slog to the end.

 

 

What's the best part or landmark of the London Marathon route?

 

Jane - My favourite part was coming down the hill from into Woolwich where the starts meet, Tower Bridge and Mile 25 where my Black Girls do Run cheer squad were!

Victor - It has to be Tower Bridge for sure, it’s such an iconic point in the marathon and the energy levels go up a notch when you arrive there.

Lisa - Mile 21!! 'Run dem Crew hands done every year and seeing all the crews out plus the rainbow section, It was sooo moving.

Holly - Oh wow that is so hard to say! The whole course is just so spectacular.  The crowds at the Cutty Sark are 10 deep and it almost feels like you're being carried along. For anyone thinking about doing the London Marathon, the good news is the first 6 miles are practically downhill. It is a great way to start a marathon.

Rach - Definitely Tower Bridge! I had been told the crowds here were the best but I hadn’t quite imagined how loud they would actually be. I took out my earphones while running over Tower Bridge so that I could take in the full atmosphere and it was incredible! I may have shed a tear!

 

 

What did you have to recover afterwards?

 

Jane - My recovery food was quite bad, I ate the remainder of the protein bar and when I got home hours later Chinese food, a magnesium and Epsom salt bath followed by my massage gun.

Victor - Straight after the race, I had some water, a protein milk shake and an electrolyte drink just to replenished my electrolyte levels. Also a lot of food was consumed after that!

Lisa - I ate pasta and meatballs, had a bath, got stuck in it, took some water and painkillers and went to bed!

Holly - Err I know I should say a recovery bar or shake... it was actually beer followed by sausage and mash! Lots of protein and carbs so it must be okay!

Rach - I went to the pub afterwards to celebrate and then went for pizza with my boyfriend. Thankfully, I had taken the Monday off work as this allowed me to fully rest and recover with my feet up!

 

 

Top Tips to someone training for a marathon?

 

Jane - Follow a training plan, with hill sessions. Incorporate strength and yoga / stretch sessions and find some friends or a running club to do your longs run with.

Victor -

  1. Follow a plan or even better a coach if you can afford to do so.

  2. Keep the easy runs in training easy, training in a lower HR. A proper HR monitor helps to keep an eye on this, I used the Coros HR arm monitor and it took my training to another level.

  3. Steady long runs are fantastic for building your aerobic engine but those speed sessions are key in building endurance, so don’t neglect speed work.

  4. Practise your fuelling strategy during runs and ensure you fuel properly before runs.

  5. Prioritise sleep. It’s important for your body to rest and repair itself!

  6. Strength training which builds a stronger body and keeps the niggles away.

  7. Lastly, have fun in training. If it stops being fun, reevaluate why you are training in the first place and find your joy for running.

 

Lisa - Your long runs are very important and practice with nutrition, nothing new on race day and work on the mindset.

Holly - Having a plan and maintaining consistency are crucial—though that's easier said than done! Marathon training demands considerable time and mental effort. Setting a clear, achievable goal at the outset can really anchor you as the training weeks progress and the event approaches. Structuring your plan with diverse run types tailored to your goal helps in effectively training all your running energy systems. It is easy to just go out and 'run' 4-5 times a week.

I highly recommend incorporating 1-2 strength training sessions into your weekly programme. Personally, I opted to replace one weekly run with a strength session and added a session of yoga too. This adjustment not only improved my consistent running speed but also decreased my injury rate.

Rach - As well as running, make sure you are strength training to build up the strength especially in your legs. I would recommend doing single leg exercises at the gym as this will help prevent injury when running.

 

Tips to someone running The London Marathon?

 

Jane - Soak up the atmosphere but don’t get swept with the crowd and go out too fast. London is the best for absolute strangers motivating you to finish!

Victor - Trust your training, soak up the atmosphere most especially at Mile 21 (best cheer zone) and enjoy the London Marathon experience. Remember we don’t have to run, we are blessed with the opportunity to run and enjoy the gift of movement.

Holly - If you're considering running a marathon, London is one of the best ones to choose! However, it can be quite intimidating, especially if it's your first one. Joining a community like Her Spirit, where you can find motivation and receive excellent coaching and advice, can make a significant difference. While it’s easy to download a free plan online, it’s much harder to tailor it to your needs. We often see women attempting to follow complex, advanced-level plans that strip away the joy of participating in their first event. At Her Spirit, while we provide plans, our focus is more on individual and group coaching support to help integrate the training into your real life. For most people, the joy of completing a marathon outweighs the stress of competing, especially when time and mental energy are limited.

Rach - Take it all in! The London Marathon will be like nothing you've ever experienced before so take in the crowds, ride the wave and enjoy it! And when it gets tough, the crowds will carry you through.

 

 

Any more events lined up?

 

Jane - Black to the Trails / Race to the King Ultra / Cardiff half Marathon - booked so far and I’m sure a few more here and there.

Victor - Next up for me will be volunteering to pace at various races, my first Ultra of the year is in June at Race to the Kings and definitely a mountain ultra marathon later this year in the Welsh mountains.

Lisa - Race to the King, Race to the Stones, Endure 24 and Birmingham half marathon this week!

Holly - Absolutely! I'm hooked on the exhilaration that follows a major event! Next on my agenda is "Chase the Sun," where we'll cycle 200 miles coast to coast from Whitley Bay, north of Newcastle, to Ayr in Scotland. We'll start at sunrise and aim to finish by sunset. The highlight of my year will be in October and a 101-mile running challenge I've created to support life-saving research for Breast Cancer Now. I might need a bit of extra energy to help me through it!

Rach - I have been selected as an ambassador for the Reykjavik Marathon in August so training starts relatively soon for that!

 

Related Tags

Related Articles

Taking On The Spine Challenger North 2024
Taking On The Spine Challenger North 2024
Angela White, The Running Granny, took on The Spine Challenger North and reports
Read More
Reasons to Visit VOOM at The National Running Show
Reasons to Visit VOOM at The National Running Show
When you see us at the Running Show we've a lot to share with you...
Read More
Finding The Way With Orienteering
Finding The Way With Orienteering
Try a new sport with Nathan Lawson’s tips for getting into, and improving at, or
Read More