The GNR is probably my favourite race ever. It was the first half marathon I ever did and I guess they're right when they say you'll never forget your first time. I am so incredibly jealous of everyone who is running the GNR this weekend as I'd absolutely love to be up there with you. When I did my first race I had absolutely no idea what to expect or what to do and there are a few things I wish I had known beforehand so I thought I'd share them with you to help you feel a little less nervous.
• Lay all of your kit out the night before and get your number pinned on. I highly recommend pinning it on when you're wearing your vest as it does fit differently. Don't be tempted to do this on the morning of the race, it's incredible how faffy those four safety pins can be when you're nervous. (Don't forget to pack your safety pins).
• Make sure you have a good balanced meal the night before. If you're travelling and staying away from home go for a safe option. Olympic triathlete Jonny Brownlee says that he always opts for pizza the night before a race because all over the world he knows what he's going to get. You'll want to try and get a good balance of carbs and protein to fuel your run.
• Before the race, make sure you've got some toilet roll with you. Even if you don't normally need to go before you run I would guess that the nervous energy you'll have you may need to make go before the race. Expect long loo queues but this is a great time to chat to people, find out how long they've been running, where they've travelled from and what time they're hoping for. Take extra toilet, you'll suddenly become the hero when you can offer some to your new friends when there's none left.
• I'd also take an old jumper which you don't mind throwing away. It can get cold at the start line. People also wear bin-liners in case it rains. It might sound silly but keeping warm before the race makes you feel much better when you do get started. The organisers usually collect all of the tops up afterwards and donate them to charity so it's a win:win situation.
• Depending on what time you're hoping for pick your place carefully in the start up line. The GNR is a fast race so it can be quite bottle necked at stages of the route if you're near the front of your pen as everyone pushes forward at the same pace. I know people who have started further back in slower pens and got faster times than those in quicker pens because the quicker pens were so full that they couldn't get through.
• Prepare yourself for one of the friendliest races ever! The people of Newcastle and Gateshead will be lining the streets for you. The route passes the front of people's houses so if it's hot be prepared for them to have their garden hose for you. All of the kids will be there cheering you on, offering you slices of orange or jelly babies and looking for a high five. Smile, chat, high five them back. The crowds at the GNR make the race an unforgettable experience.
• The course is an enjoyable single route starting in the city centre, crossing the Tyne and heading out to the coast. It's relatively flat but look out for the gentle incline from mile 6-7. The tunnels at the start are really fun, I won't spoil it by saying what happens but it will give you goose bumps. My biggest tip for the whole course though is for mile 12. You'll cross a little mini roundabout and see the sea, hear the band and feel the atmosphere go crazy. Be careful, you're almost there but you have got another 1.1 miles to go. You'll head left up the coast and it's one of the best parts of the race but don't start sprinting too soon. By this point there's probably at least another 10 minutes until the finish line. Savour the moment and dig deep you'll only have minutes left until you've finished one of the greatest races on earth.
• Make sure you have picked a letter to meet your friends and family. My surname begins with a "W" and I can never face walking all that way so I often pick D or E so that it's not too busy and not too far to walk.
• Finally, after the huge celebratory meal, tonnes of photos with your medal and post-race champagne I recommend a hot bath. The hotter the better works for me and helps to stop sore legs the next day.
Have an amazing race. Please tag me in all your post-race selfies.