Run Don’t Run 2014 London Marathon Freebie Guide

If you thought the only reward you got after all those early morning starts, Sunday long runs, visits to physiotherapists/sports masseuses/osteopaths/podiatrists and generally wearing out your shoes was the chance to slog around London with 35000 other people then think again. For this week and probably this week only, a Virgin Money London Marathon race number or finisher’s medal pretty much gives you the keys to the city (well, access to lots of free stuff). Most of these offers were harvested off Twitter so it might be wise to double check terms and conditions beforehand.

Free Travel

Transport for London are offering free travel on the Tube, bus, London Overground, tram and Docklands Light Railway for all runners in the big day, from early morning until 5pm. To qualify, show your race number.

Those coming from further afield are entitled to free travel on any Chiltern Railways services on Sunday, 13 April. To get the free travel runners just have to present their official Marathon tabard or race number to ticket inspectors.

Free Services for Runners

If you need a bit of last minute intervention to get you to the start and finish line, Runners Need are offering free Kinesiology Taping for marathon runners courtesy of @SixPhysio @TheOnlyWayIs_UP on Friday 11th April between 11am and 2pm at their Strype Street store (E1 7LQ) near Liverpool Street station. Holborn and Southwark Street branches are also offering this service (contact stores for details).

Over 70s running the marathon qualify for up to 3 months free membership at the Jubilee Hall gym in Covent Garden. The gym has the latest Life Fitness Engage series treadmills as well as almost 100 other pieces of cardiovascular and strength training equipment to keep runners in the groove.

Free Food

MEAT liquor are offering a free burger to medal holders on race day plus 50% off for official volunteers. MEAT liquor is at 74 Wellbeck Street, London W1G 0BA

Meanwhile Gourmet Burger Kitchen in Jubilee Place, Canary Wharf are offering a free burger to all London Marathon 2014 medal wearers, valid April 13-15th. They’re also throwing a mini bottle of Prosecco. Supporters eating with you will also get a complimentary bottle of Prosecco when they order a main from the menu.

From 7th April runners with a Marathon number can have a free meal at the Mayfair Pizza Company The offer runs until Friday 12th April and Mayfair Pizza Company is at 4 Lancashire Court, New Bond Street.

For other marathon free food fests, the Daily Telegraph has these and a few other places for the likes of Peruvian style breakfasts, macaroni cheese, grills and post-race cocktails.

Free Sightseeing

The Shard are offering the first 100 medal holders turning up from 13th to 17th April free entry to London’s highest viewing platform. They’re also offering a 20% discount for friends, family, and supporters who accompany a medal holder. Offer details and terms and conditions are here.

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Are you a Run-Faffer?

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Cap/image from zazzle.co.uk

I lay in bed early this morning, trying to sleep through Mrs Run Don’t Run making heavy weather about whether to go on her usual Sunday morning bike ride or not. It involved a lot of text messages, peaking outside to check on the iciness of the roads, and then, once the decision had been made to get the bike out, a lot of careful weighing up and mind changing about food, drink and the most ideal kit selection. As soon as she returns, I’m planning on immediately heading out on my long run, but you can be fairly certain that it won’t be the smooth handover of a carefully drilled triathlon relay team. For I am a run faffer. To faff is “to muck about, wasting time doing something not necessary.” It’s a real word and a genuine affliction- it must be because it’s in the Urban Dictionary!

The thing is, you might be one too, especially at this time of year. Check out the tell-tale signs:

1. Over-careful route planning – you want a route with no hills, which you’re not bored of, which needs to be familiar enough to avoid getting lost, with no likely puddles to mess up your box fresh new trainers, and it has to end outside your house after exactly 9.5 miles because that’s what your programme says. Cue consulting of maps, cutting bits of thread to measure distances.
Potential Faff-Factor: 60 minutes

2. Deciding the kit you wear has to match, or at the very least, doesn’t clash. This informs the perfect choice of socks. However, you can only find one.
Potential Faff-Factor: 20 minutes

3. Taking extra care over your hydration needs, especially before a 3 mile recovery run. Insisting on filtered water, from the fridge, in your favourite “lucky” bottle which is nowhere to be found, although other vessels are available.
Potential Faff-Factor: 10 minutes

4. Killing the time waiting for your breakfast to go down by snacking.
Potential Faff-Factor: 180 minutes

5. Easily locating your iPod, but then having a last minute wish for a new playlist (cue switching on of creaky old computer, loading up of massive music library, hand-picking of new tunes, sorting into gradually increasing BPMs with a nice bit of slowing down towards the end for your warm-down)
Potential Faff-Factor: 60 minutes

6. Announcing every run, no matter how trivial, on a range of social media.
Potential Faff-Factor: 10 minutes

7. Last minute clothing shuffle when the promised “mild conditions” turn out to be permafrost.
Potential Faff-Factor: 15 minutes

8. Watch-fiddling – entering a new work-out, switching from imperial to metric “for a bit of variety” then spending 10 minutes stood outside, losing the benefits of tell-tale sign 9.
Potential Faff-Factor: 20 minutes

9. Doing a thorough warm-up (the most beneficial faff, and naturally the one I’m least guilty of).
Potential Faff-Factor: 15 minutes

10. Reading running blogs about faffing, thinking “Yes, I do some of those, but he’s missed out the most important faff which is…..” then not being able to remember your log on name or password to add it as a comment under said blog.
Potential Faff-Factor: 10 minutes

So are you a run-faffer? Can you suggest even more ways I can take even longer to get out of the house?

Things to do which kind of feel like running but aren’t

On Wednesday I went on a club-run which started at home, joined up with about 50 people all dressed in red vests at mile two and then proceeded a further 5.5 miles along the canals of East London to a pub finale. It was great fun but tough going because it was one of those “summer” evenings we have a lot of here, dull and grey but somehow very warm and humid. The route was one I’ve often run there and back along but on Wednesday it proved to be quite a slog just doing half of it. Since then I haven’t managed to get those running shoes on again, partly because I can probably claim to be “tapering” for a 12 mile race I’m signed up for next weekend, but mainly because I’m still feeling a bit knackered.

I’ve started to notice things I do during these down times to con myself that I’m still one hundred per cent “a runner”, but if I’m honest make no contribution to my fitness or progress.

1. Actually wear a finisher’s t-shirt. I have a drawer full of the things and they’re like the may fly of the garment world (look it up). Everyone proudly wears them as they walk away from a race, despite the slightly inappropriate nature of some of the hundreds of sponsors listed on the back, go home, take them off, wash them and put them away, never to be seen again. When I can’t be bothered to go running, I often put on a favourite and wear it as I go out to buy some muffins or beer. I like to think this special clothing miraculously improves my VO2 max.

2. Watch the Athletics on TV. This activity is preferably done lying prostrate on the sofa with a bottle of wine on the go. Coverage tends to go on all afternoon. I find it very motivating to watch the world’s greatest athletes going through their paces and give my brain a bit of a work out, trying to think how their performances could improve mine. The shots of runners preparing for the 100m and 200m have helped me no end in how to behave on the start line, although that little dance and gun-finger I did at the start of the last Parkrun I took part in didn’t seem to go down too well. This race helped set a new personal target:

One day I would like to do a 5k exactly 10 minutes slower than Mo Farah. 23:41:66 will do nicely thanks.

3. Knock up some running fuel. I’m a sucker for a new recipe and running troughs mean I have more time to browse for new things to create in the kitchen. Preferably things which will make me purr like a lovingly treated racing car when I next lace up my running shoes. Last week I spotted this recipe while sitting in a cafe for two hours as my daughter whizzed by at her Saturday morning cycling club. It looked perfect – fresh fruit, a bit of spice for a twist, the all important oats and chia, the latest run-fuelling fad wonder food. I made enough for three or four people and helped myself to a big portion each morning, feeling a bit like those Kenyan runners who start each day with a helping of ugali. The fact that I used my healthy start to fuel two consecutive days of sitting at a desk or slobbing around the house was conveniently overlooked.

Other suggestions:
– Go and buy some new “fantasy” running shoes that, if you’re honest, you’ll never wear (fell running shoes do the trick if you’re a Londoner)
– Blog about a race you did over a year ago or sign up for one you won’t need to start training for for another 6 months
– Any more “fake runner” tips?