Playing the long game: Training for the Great North Run

February 18 2015

In a previous post, we discussed the surge of popularity that the half marathon has received in recent months. The half marathon is definitely here to stay, remaining a hugely successful distance for runners of all experience levels. It’s very much all the rage among those who don’t find 10km races challenging enough.

Completing the Great North Run will be an important long-term goal for many people this year. Starting in Newcastle, the run will take competitors through the city centre and over the iconic Tyne Bridge. Runners will travel across Gateshead and the route will lead to South Shields, where runners will get to experience a stunning view of the seafront as they run down Prince Edward Road with only one mile to go until the finish line.

The race isn’t until September, but you should start your training now.

Play the long game

It’s easy to feel the pressure and get carried away with your half marathon training by squeezing it into the space of a few months. While it is possible to train for a half marathon in just 12 weeks, it’s not the best option for everyone and it requires you to have a good foundation of fitness prior to beginning your training. The Great North Run may be seven months away but you should already be hitting the gym - remember, you sometimes have to start small to achieve big.

As part of our 40 Days of Fitness Challenge, we are encouraging people to take small steps towards their long-term fitness goals by participating in our exercise challenges every day for 40 days. You can find more information about the challenge here. By completing small fitness tasks everyday, you will remain more focused on your long-term goal, as the preparation won’t seem as daunting, it’s much easier to convince yourself to do 15 minutes of cardio everyday than it is to go for an hour-long run four days a week. This will encourage you to stick to a healthy lifestyle as part of your training routine.

5 steps to success

Here are the top tips to get you prepared for the Great North Run.

Go little and often

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s better to complete smaller amounts of exercise everyday than jumping into gruelling sessions a few times a week. If you aren’t used to intense bouts of exercise, overtraining can even do your body more harm than good, so it is best to ease into it by completing manageable amounts more frequently.

Train with a friend

Training doesn’t have to be boring, get a friend involved and challenge each other. You’ll be much more likely to stick to your goals if you have someone to hold you accountable if you miss a session. Plus there’s nothing wrong with a bit of healthy competition, and you’ll probably end up pushing yourself harder than if you were training alone.

Visualise the route

Sometimes it helps to know exactly where you’re going, and visualising the route will make it seem more manageable to break down and conquer the run. While we aren’t suggesting that you run the whole route before the race, you could start by walking sections of it and eventually begin to run individual parts of it until you are ready to complete the entire route.

Think about the end result

Instead of thinking about how challenging the race could be, imagine how great you’ll feel afterwards! A half marathon is a fantastic achievement that you’ll be proud of for years to come. Not only that but you’ll train yourself to be in the best shape of your life with improved health benefits, a better mood and enhanced body confidence to boot.

Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

Just because you can’t run 13 miles today, doesn’t mean you never will. Slow progress is still good progress, have faith in yourself that you can do it and you will be able to.

People come from far and wide to take part in the Great North Run, but it’s also a big occasion for natives of the North-East. We certainly expect to see many of you visiting our gyms in Byker, Sunderland and North Shields in the coming months. Feel free to stop one of our PTs and ask them how they can help you prepare for the big race.

We are offering the rest of February for free if you sign up for a membership with DW Fitness Clubs here.