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5 Tips for the Edinburgh Marathon

Running enthusiast Ali Wyllie shares her top tips for this year's runners.

20 . 02 . 2019

“I run because I can; I run because I am healthy, able and free” -Ali Wyllie

The Edinburgh Marathon was the first mass marathon to be held in Auld Reekie and today attracts thousands of people to Edinburgh who hope to run the 23.219 mile course. For many, their training for the event is well underway. To help you get started we asked our friends over at Run the Sights, a super fun company providing guided running tours in and around our beautiful city, for a few tips. They even provide our guests with a 10% discount on their tours!

As a much-experienced runner with an Edinburgh Marathon time of 3.32, we thought founder Ali Wyllie was the perfect person to speak to. Without further ado here are Ali’s top 5 tips for this year’s Edinburgh Marathon.

Royal Garden Apartments are only a short walk from the starting line

Royal Garden Apartments are only a short walk from the starting line


1) Be flexible with your goals

Things don’t always go according to plan, and that is okay.  Injury may happen and cause a set back to your training, work or family life may interfere with your training; that is okay  Don’t just have one goal.  Have a gold, silver and bronze set of goals.  Gold being the absolute ideal and relies on everything going to plan on the day.  This could be achieving a personal best.  Silver is a result that you would be happy with but you see as adequate, maybe achieving a similar time to previous races.  And as for bronze – sometimes we have to accept that not everything goes according to plan. No attempt to complete the Edinburgh Marathon is ever a failure; be proud of what you achieve by taking part.

When I raced Tiree Ultra, I had a flawless start and at halfway, I was all set for my gold plan – a podium finish. Unfortunately, it then went all wrong.  My IT band caused me so much pain that I had to walk.  I was close to pulling out, but the weather was beautiful and I was desperate to see the gorgeous coastline of Tiree so I finished the race to my bronze goal – which was quite simply – to finish.


2) Nerves are natural

I don’t know anyone who isn’t affected by pre-race nerves in some shape or form.  What type of runner are you?  Do you find that being around people and chatting before a race helps you relax, or do you need to block people out?  Do you find it helpful to close your eyes and breath deeply? Everybody has their own strategy to cope with their nerves and it’s important that you stick to what works for you.

I get really anxious before a race to the point that I can barely string a sentence together! Despite the fact, ordinarily, I am a very bubbly and chatty person. I find that being super organised and early for the race helps me relax. The idea of running late makes my nerves a lot worse and so I always plan ahead to avoid this.

Run the Sights enjoying a tour on Calton Hill

© Run the Sights


3) Nutrition

This can be very personal.  Are you going to take any form of nutrition on board during the marathon? A common mistake made by new marathon runners is eating a lot on the day of the marathon but not during your training. You need to make sure you practice eating to avoid any gut issues on race day.

Your body needs fuel to run a marathon and so you must be very conscious of feeding your body in the week leading up to the Edinburgh Marathon, ensuring that you are fully hydrated. Many runners swear by a bowl of porridge before a race and what runner doesn’t eat bananas? I eat a vegan diet and I am very conscious of fuelling my body through my training runs and races.  I swear by Active Root for it’s natural ingredients and keeping stomach settled.

Making sure to train regularly


4) Mental Strength

Endurance running is less about the physical challenge and more about the mental challenge. What do you think about to keep you going? Do you have negative thoughts when you run? Does listening to music help you focus? Do you actually enjoy the run or is it only when you get to the end that you decide you enjoyed it?

Learn to train your brain during your training. If you have negative thoughts like “I can’t ….” then try to replace them with positive affirmations.  Look into the use of mantras. It is often a case of mind over matter. Remember – pain is temporary but glory lasts forever!

My mental strength is my own personal power.  I have a BSc (Hons) degree in Psychology with Sport Science and I love training my brain.  During a particularly tough ultramarathon I made up a mantra to help me get through and finish.  “I run because I can; I run because I am healthy, able and free.”  This mantra recognises how lucky I am to run and always encourages me to keep going through any difficult races.


5) Enjoy yourself

Seriously. You have done the training, it may or may not have gone to plan – but there is nothing you can do about that on the day. So settle into a stride, look about you and enjoy yourself.  Remember – you are super privileged to be able to run! Get out there and do yourself proud.

And if you ever fancy joining me for a running tour of Edinburgh then you are more than welcome.


Accommodation for the Marathon

If, like Ali, the thought of being late to the Marathon causes you stress then you should look into booking accommodation for the evening before. Our Royal Garden apartments are just around the corner from the starting line, and even include access to the private Queen Street gardens for a pre-race walk to calm your nerves. Alternatively, our West-End Grove and Harris properties are also great options for runners. We recommend booking your accommodation as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.

Good luck to all runners hoping to complete this year’s Edinburgh Marathon, we’ll be rooting for you!

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Full credit for blog to Ali Wyllie from Run the Sights. Thank you for your advice Ali!

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