Preparation is half the battle (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Some 40,000 runners will take to the streets of the capital tomorrow for the London Marathon.

Stretching from Blackheath to Buckingham Palace, the 68.2-mile race returns for the spring after the coronavirus pandemic forced it to be held in October in recent years.

Celebrities such as Chris Evans, Adele Roberts and Harry Judd will be in attendance and the mass boarding event is expected to begin in waves between 10am and 11.30am.

While it promises to be an exciting day, marathon runners will have a lot on their minds amidst the fanfare. Months of effort — from practice runs to avoiding friction — will have gone into this big moment, but final preparations are an important part of long-distance running success.

Injuries are most common in the week leading up to a marathon, but it would be a shame to waste all that hard work and fail at the final hurdle, so an effective warm-up and strength training are essential.

Dean Hodgkin, personal trainer and head of programming at TRUCONNECT, shared his top 10 exercises to get you started – and they don’t require any extra equipment. On your marks, ready, go!

leaps and bounds

“To develop strength, the next time you go for a run, ideally on grass, increase your stride length and increase your knee movements so your overall speed decreases,” Dean tells

“Focus on reducing the time your foot is in contact with the ground and really push off so that your foot movement speeds up (even if your pace is slower) and you explode up and forward.”

Hill shuttles

Don’t try to save downhill parts of training runs for recovery, as you’ll see the maximum benefits when you switch things up.

Dean explains, “Uphill bursts increase leg power, and downhill sprints help your legs handle a higher cadence, helping you increase your top speed.”

marathon competition

Don’t fall over the last hurdle with an inadequate warm-up (Photo: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Refuse squats

“This prevents a common problem in runners where weakness in the inner quadriceps muscle causes the kneecap to pull out of alignment and rub against the bone at the end of the thigh,” says Dean.

“Stand face down on an incline, feet facing forward and about hip-width apart. Bend your knees and push your buttocks back to squat, making sure your knees point straight ahead, then return to the upright position.

Side leg raises

Begin this exercise next to a bench or the bottom step of a flight of stairs, with your left foot on the step and your right foot on the floor.

“Squat down by bending both knees, then lift all your weight and transfer it to your left leg while simultaneously lifting your right foot off the floor and pulling it out to the side,” explains Dean. “Slow back, checked.”

Angled calf raises

Dean says, “Stand with your feet apart on the edge of a sturdy bench or on the bottom step of a flight of stairs with your heels hanging behind you.

“Turn your toes in, hold this oblique position, slowly raise your heels as high as comfortable and roll onto the balls of your foot by contracting the calf muscles strongly and then lowering in a controlled manner.

“Rest, then turn your toes out to the side and repeat the heel movement.”

This will help strengthen your calves and warm up your ankles so they’re ready for competition.

How do you prepare for a big run? Share your thoughts in the comments belowanswer now

walking heel

“This is a great exercise for building strength in the muscles in the front of the lower leg and reducing the risk of shin splints that many runners face,” says Dean.

“Lift your toes as high as you can and walk around. You may lose your balance at first when you change positions, but keep this in mind.’

He adds that you should do this exercise barefoot for best results.

toe sharpening

A toe scrunch is useful to strengthen the muscles and connective tissue in the sole of the foot. This helps prevent plantar fasciitis, a problem many runners struggle with.

Dean advises, “Put your bare foot on a towel and pull your toes back while pressing them into the ground at the same time.”

Sportswoman sprint in the city

Focus on strength and consistency (Picture: Getty Images)

roll and release

“The ilio-tibial band is a sheath of connective tissue on the outside of the thigh that can often become tight and cause pain in runners,” says Dean.

He recommends lying on your side with a tennis ball tucked under you, just below your waist.

“Cross your top leg and put your foot down and place your hands on the floor for stability,” he continues. “Use your arms to slowly push your body up and down against the ball so that it rolls from just below the waist to just above the knee.”

running retro

It might feel a little crazy, but according to Dean, an occasional back run can “reduce the incidence of impact injuries in the knees and lower back.”

He advises working it into your warmup, but ideally with a training partner to keep the eyes on your mind.

To walk barefoot

Taking sneakers off and running “naked” improves lower leg strength and can increase your efficiency by reducing fatigue.

Adds Dean, “But before you throw away your running shoes, remember there are health and safety issues to consider, especially outdoors.”

A short barefoot run on soft ground is a good start, and you can continue to build frequency and time once you’ve recovered from your marathon high.