So, you’ve signed up for your first Marathon - congratulations!
No one would deny that marathons are a big commitment and can be a little scary, but there’s no need to panic. You still have plenty of time to prepare yourself for the big day, ensuring you’re mentally prepared, in peak physical condition and kitted out with the right performance gear.
How to train
Let’s get straight to the point - marathons are tough. For a lot of people, a marathon is seen as the ultimate test of fitness and endurance — even those who are seasoned runners.
You can’t simply sign up and expect to simply turn up on the day: It requires some serious thought. From figuring out when to squeeze in your training sessions to searching for the perfect pair of running shoes, everything you do needs to be carefully thought out. It may feel daunting, but with the right preparation, very achievable.
We’ve partnered up with England Athletics to bring you our top 5 tips to help you prepare for race day:
5 Steps to put you on the road to success
1. Preparation is everything
The big day may feel like a long time away, however, you should plan to start your actual marathon training sometime in January. Whether you’re looking to smash your personal best or just comfortably finish, we have 14-16 week programmes for you to follow, including a tailored plan for getting started in January.
As a rule of thumb, you should feel comfortable running roughly 10 miles by the end of the month before continuing with your training.
2. Gear yourself up for success
You’ll be amazed at how important the right kit is when it comes to running success. As you can imagine, running shoes play a huge part in your performance, so it’s important to do your research to find out what works for you. Whether you need to focus more on cushioning or support, we have a huge range of shoes for you to choose from.
But it’s not just your feet that you need to look after, you need to make sure all your gear is up to scratch. With our collection of breathable, energy-enhancing running clothing, you’ll not only move easier and faster but will look great doing it.
If you try running a marathon in a tired old kit, you run the risk of overheating or chaffing — not what you want halfway through a race. With the right gear, however, you could give yourself the edge you need to get over the line.
3. Mix and match
Running the marathon may appear to be all about one thing: being able to run a long distance. Although that may be true, to do so you need to learn how to run a little quicker over shorter distances too.
In your usual run, try surging hard for three or four minutes, perhaps five or six times. Or if you fancy something a little more uniform, go to the park and run, say, 6x2min with 1min rest. Do this once a fortnight and you’ll start to notice a difference.
Likewise, once every 10 days or so, instead of going out for your usual half-hour, go easy for 5min, then hard for 20 before easing in again for the last 5. Your body will start to make the necessary physiological adjustments, turning you into a stronger, more efficient runner. It’s that simple!
4. The perfect pace
Amazingly, we all know our perfect pace — it’s inbuilt and it’s slow. The best running is done at a speed where you can happily chat to whoever you are with (there’s a tip for you: share the workload and find someone to run with). If you can settle into that rhythm – with walking or without – you’ve pretty much found the ideal speed for increasing your ability to run further.
Heart rate monitors and fitness trackers can also help you find that ideal pace, but it’ll be exactly the speed you’ve found yourself by chatting with a running buddy.
There are many methods for this, but the most practical approach is simple. Set yourself a few mini-targets as you work towards your main goal and things will move along nicely.
If you have that first goal of being able to run 10 miles comfortably by the end of January, getting out on dark nights will be that much easier.
Book a session at the gym once a week with a friend, arrange to meet once a week for a long run. If that’s not strict enough for you, why not try entering a race? Don’t worry about winning or PB’s, it’s all about getting you prepared to feel good and relaxed by race day. You’ll find that it’s the small things that work the best.
Visit the England Athletics website for more help and advice on running and keeping fit.