Annie Foulds is a highly respected and experienced fitness trainer and marathon runner, as well as a passionate supporter of Terrence Higgins Trust. If running a marathon seems daunting, her top tips for first-timers will make the challenge seem far more manageable.

Less than 0.5% of the world’s population have run a marathon – you could be among them!

Annie Foulds running

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1. Don’t worry about your time! Just concentrate on getting to the finish line.

2. Relax – remember to enjoy the training and the race day as much as possible.

3. Select or prepare a training plan, starting 12-16 weeks before the race. Start even earlier if it makes you feel better! I believe in small steps, reducing the chances of an injury.

4. Wash and wear your intended kit weeks or months before the marathon. Try to avoid buying new gear, clothes, or shoes that you haven’t tested for suitability.

5. Test out your nutrition (gels, bars or bananas etc) during your training; don’t change it or chance it on marathon day. It can be very tempting to do so, but can cause stomach upsets. Similarly, an energy deficit can result in leg or calf cramps, so make sure you have some mid-race snacks planned.

6. Plan your transport in advance and know how you're getting to your start line. You want the days prior to be as smooth and stress-free as possible. Have a loose idea of your race’s likely duration – 5 hours 30 minutes for instance – so that you can meet your supporters easily afterwards.

7. Make sure you get enough sleep leading up to the marathon. You may be too nervous to sleep well the night before, but that’s okay and completely normal.

8. Prepare all your kit the night before the marathon. You'll need to drop off your kit bag on the day, so think about how cold you may feel. You’ll thank yourself for those layered jackets and a clean T-shirt once you’re over the finish line!

9. Keep topping up your hydration 24 hours before the marathon; drink two litres at least.  Check the colour of your urine – it will be a light, near-transparent colour if you're fully hydrated.

10. Wake up earlier on Marathon morning, as you will need to eat breakfast and hydrate (500ml) at least 2.5 hours before the race. Nerves will start to kick in, so you may need to allow time for loo visits and nutrition top ups.

11. Vaseline up the morning of the marathon to avoid any chafing – the nipples can be a particular sore spot, so prevent that with some Vaseline.

12. Don’t start too fast; pacing is critical. It’s really easy to get carried away with all the other runners and the race-day excitement, but try to reserve your energy for later, when you need it.

13. Make sure you have friends or family there to reward your hard work! Be proud of the amazing thing you have done for Terrence Higgins Trust. Good luck and have fun!

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