Runner celebrates after completing the London Marathon for the British Red CrossThe London Marathon ballot has closed: are you in or out? If you didn’t get a place, you can run with Team Red Cross. Apply to run the London Marathon 2016.

If you were one of the lucky folk who got a place, why not use your run to raise money for a fantastic cause? All your training can help people in crisis when you fundraise for the British Red Cross.

Demelza ran for Team Red Cross this year. If you’re running in 2016, read her seven top tips for taking on one of the world’s biggest – and best – races.

STEP ONE

Run for the British Red Cross

“When you join Team Red Cross, you know you’re going the extra mile for people in need, all over the world. And they’ll cheer you on, and give you lots of tips and advice. Everybody I’ve spoken to with questions has been really helpful and supportive.”

STEP TWO

Invest in good running shoes

“Go a proper sport’s shop that analyses your running, so you get the right kind. A decent pair of running shoes really makes such a difference. When I first tried mine on, I thought ‘Oh my god, it’s like running on air – this is why I’ve paid all this money’.”

Another amazing runner for the British Red Cross

A proud runner for Team Red Cross shows off her medal

STEP THREE

Buy running gear (but second-hand)

“I got most of my running clothes second-hand through eBay, as it can get so expensive. I found stuff unworn, with tags – and a quarter of the price that you see in the shops.”

STEP FOUR

Find a running group

“Try not to do it on your own. Find a local running group or persuade a few friends in your area. People think runners are a bit competitive, but I’ve found them so supportive. I think it’s especially important on the long runs, as they can be a mental battle to keep going without people around you.”

STEP FIVE

Join a gym

“When it is really horrid and dark and nasty, a gym means you can at least still do your three miles inside. Also, part of the training they tell you do is interval and hill training – but finding a hill near me was hard! You can do all that on a treadmill. I wish I’d sucked up the cost and joined one.”

STEP SIX

Get help raising money

“Use groups and people around you: whether it’s work or your local church or Brownie group. People want to do something like that, they get something out of it – they’ll quite happily turn up to an event. Even in an office, you can find ten people who will support you in throwing a throw a cake sale – or even just pay you to eat cake.”

STEP SEVEN

Picture the finish

“Visualise how it’s going to feel when you get past that finish line, even if you’re being dragged over it! At a half-marathon, I burst into tears as soon as I crossed the line. All those around me were serious runners, who didn’t know how to handle my reaction. But I just felt like the greatest person in the world.”