It turns out that both the training and race can be an amazing, positive experience. When I've got it right, I've had the best time. When I've got it wrong (and at Isle of Wight marathon, my first time going long on road, I got it epically wrong)...well, let's just say if I wasn't parked at the finish, I probably would have packed it in at mile 25.
With only a couple of days before I start the London Marathon, I've made a check list of all the things I learned not to do at my last marathon. This is everything you should do to hate a marathon.
1. GO WITH THE FLOWGet caught up with other people's plans, feed off their hype and let FOMO sign you up for someone else's race.
2. DON'T CHECK THE ROUTELeave the fact that you won't be seeing the sea for 26 miles on an island run as a nasty surprise. Also, make sure you expect the race to have closed roads, when in fact you'll have cars whizzing past whilst you tuck into the roadside hedgerows, trying not to breathe in fumes.
3. MAKE SURE YOU'RE TIREDA week before running a marathon, make sure your legs are already beaten up with a mountain race. Around 37k with 2,500m elevation gain should just about do it.
Ensure you are the only member of your party who can drive. Hire a car and make sure the journey is at least three and a half hours one way.
4. REALLY, REALLY TIRED
Roll up to the race and just 'see what happens'. Make sure you have no idea of the pace you should be running. If possible, follow people you came with and try to hang onto their pace.
5. DON'T HAVE A PLAN
When the going gets tough, make sure you have absolutely no reason to be there. With no motivation, it will be a real struggle to pull yourself out of the mental hole.
6. DON'T HAVE A REASON TO RUN
7. HAVE A STROP AND FALL OUT WITH YOUR FRIENDSWhen motivation has run out and you've had enough, make sure you throw all your toys out the pram, threaten to walk the entire way and piss off the friends you had been running with.
Follow these top tips and you too will have a rotten time running 26.2 miles of hell!