Why can't I run a good race at London?

After bad day yesterday I'm trying to work out what went wrong and was wondering if other people have races they just never seem to perform well in.

First marathon 2007, London - thought I was in 3:15 shape, but crossed the line in just over 4 hours. Looking back , 3:15 may have been a bit optimistic for a first marathon, but thought it was possible.

Fast forward to yesterday, 5 marathons under belt and a 3:14 Pb set at Chester in October. I was sure a 3:10 was possible, but struggled accross the line in 3:41. Did more long runs than Chester and faster speedwork, so why did it go wrong. Starting to think never run well in London.

Must say that support yesterday was unbelievable and although didn't get time was amazed by the number of people around course; seemed far more than 2007.


  • Yes

    I think it's a combination of bad timing and crowds.  The date is set just when it's getting hotter, just as hay fever is starting to kick in (I got my annual hay fever kick-off migraine at the finish yesterday), and too long after cross-country.  And I suspect the crowds and hype just get to me - it makes it hard to concentrate and I think simply uses up too much mental energy.

    So I take other races seriously and just run London for fun now.

  • I agree, I always find London harder than any other race. I am sure that it is the fact that you train in the coldest weather of the year and then run the race when it starts to get warmer - where was the rain I ordered for the 20 mile mark? I find the crowds a little daunting and find it hard to focus. However, it is a must do event and while I'm running well enough to get good for age, I will continue to do it!

  • No doubt the age old problem with London and other major Marathons.... You get caught up in the pre- race hype. I saw people walking around over 2 hrs before the start. Add that to the fact that most of us have to get to stations, wait for trains, then have a fair way to walk to the start it is no wonder our bodies have had enough as we get closer to the finish. In other marathons and training it is just a case of we just get out of the front door and do our long runs or at events we park as close as possible get out and run the race. We spend too much time wandering around and using up all our nervous and physical energy BEFORE the race. The elite runners were actually lying on mats in their tent until 10 mins before the gun on Sunday having been transferred by coach from their 5 star hotels...... need I say more... we have to remember next time... there will be a next time won't there.......
  • Same with me, I've felt nauseous and fallen apart both times (like you, 2007 and yesterday).

    I just think the whole thing is a bit overwhelming and that nerves get to me. I managed to pull off a PB yesterday but it was a battle.

    Much as I try to tell myself that I've done all this in training and that it's totally achievable some part of me either won't listen (or can't hear above the crowds) image

    And Gatton - you make a great point. Yesterday there were problems on the Central Line-  goodness knows how many runners had to find alternative routes - and the overground from London Bridge was packed and very slow. I got up at 5.30, to Blackheath at 8.30 and crossed the start line at just before 10 .

    I guess if you don't start relaxed how can you run relaxed?

  • I'm thinking of doing London next year with my gfa time from Paris, but as I'm after a new PB, I'm not sure London is the place to do it?
  • For me I think London is warmer than you'd want it to be.
    It's usually just as the weather changes and you've not had many warm runs.
    I was a bit disappointed by the lack of rain yesterday. Today would have been much better to race in.
  • kaffeegkaffeeg ✭✭✭
    Does this mean I get to blame my rather embarrassing finish time on the crowds?  WHOOOOOP!
  • Because it's a circus.  If you want a good marathon time, choose a quiet marathon!
  • My one experience of London was the same. Massive underperformance, huge expense, hassle, self inflicted pressure and I couldn't get in to any sort of rhythm due to crowds on and off the course. If I ever do it again it'd be as a fun run. It blew my confidence. I re grouped, looked at training again and went up to Loch Ness and took 16 mins off my time
  • Go CazGo Caz ✭✭✭
    Well, I'm glad it's not just me! I can really identify with your post. This was my second London, out of four marathons, and both times I've found it all seems to go badly wrong around 15 miles or so (in Docklands). It makes me wonder whether I should risk doing it again next year (I have gfa time) or not...
  • Fastest time I did in 5 marathons was at Chester two years ago. It was a low key event, v quiet, v boring out and back course with not a lot of support. Just allowed me to concentrate on getting on with the reason I was there.
    Done London 3 times and its too much over the whole weekend imo. Something smaller like Nottingham, Abingdon or similar would be better.
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