SPRING MARATHON TOP 10 TIPS
Are you training for a spring marathon or do you fancy trying one in the future? New Balance ambassador Jonny Mellor, who has a 2hr 10min marathon to his name in 2020 has some great advice for you to make sure that next race is one to remember for all the right reasons.
1. STRUCTURE YOUR TRAINING
This will help with giving each run a purpose and ensure you’re training efficiently as well as ensuring you’re starting off safely without overdoing it too early into the plan. I’ve seen it happen so many times where runners simply jump in at the deep end and ramp up their training far too quickly, which more often than not ends in injury and interrupted training.
2. DON’T WORRY ABOUT OTHERS
Don’t fall into the trap of seeing what another runner is doing and think you should be doing the same. They might have been running for longer than you or have a different goal so put your faith in a plan and tick the training off day by day, week by week.
Remember that every runner is different and you will not know how much mileage is manageable until you start building towards your race distance goal. Listen to your body and over time you will learn when you’re doing too much! Common signs include exhaustion, losing control of your emotions, injury, slow paces and not being able to elevate your heart rate.
3. INVEST IN THE RIGHT SHOES
If you’re just starting out trainers are going to be very important to help you stay injury-free. They are going to be the most important tool in your marathon kit. Hopefully if you’re running a marathon soon, you’ll already have had this covered, but I’d highly recommend calling into your local DW store to check your running gait.
Replace trainers as necessary leading up to race day and never race in a new pair of trainers you’ve not run in before or had the chance to properly break in.
4. RUNNING KIT IS ALSO IMPORTANT
In terms of running kit as a marathoner you’ll now need to worry about chafing! Select an outfit that you will be able to wear on race day and wear it at least once on a long training run. This will ensure it’s comfortable and if there are any areas that are prone to chafing make sure to invest in some chafe cream. I always spend time before a marathon (or long training run) making sure I’ve got cream around all of the crucial areas.
5. RUN WITH OTHERS
To help maintain motivation along the way, consider running with others to share the journey. If you commit to meeting your running buddy for a run you’re more likely to stick to it, especially if you’re training through the winter months. Running with someone that bit faster than you can also help you get more out of yourself when training. There are lots of really good running groups around as well as a strong structure of running clubs catering for all abilities in the UK. Head over to England Athletics to find a group or club near to you.
6. RACE DURING YOUR BUILD UP
As well as running with others adding some smaller races such as a 10k or half marathon in the lead up to race day can help you build confidence and also boost motivation levels. It’s also useful for giving you a guide and indication of what sort of pace to aim for on race day. When nerves set in during race week you can look back at previous race results and the training you’ve completed to remind yourself that you can do it.
7. RECOVERY IS IMPORTANT
Make your easy days easy! One of the most common mistakes runners make is running too fast on easy days, or indeed not taking easy days at all. Easy days are so important to allow for recovery from your harder sessions and also allow adaptation from all of your training. As an elite marathon runner, I would estimate a good 80% of my weekly mileage is at an easy pace! This allows me to hit my hard days hard and ensure I’m getting sufficient volume and recovery in. Be confident enough in your training to run at an easy pace. This should be a pace where you can maintain a conversation if you were running with someone else. Over time the easy paces will increase so you can run faster with less effort.
8. NUTRITION IS VITAL
Nutrition and hydration will also play an important part when training for a marathon. Make sure you’re testing hydration and fuel for race day well in advance to get used to it for race day. Check the supplier at the marathon you’re running so you know what to try in training beforehand or shop around to find a combination of gels or drinks that work for you.
9. BREAK THE DISTANCE UP
On race day focus on breaking the race up into manageable chunks. 26.2 miles can seem daunting so break the distance down either into distances or landmarks on the route. I like to focus on ticking off one 5k section at a time and remind myself not to let my mind wander too far in front or behind. This enables me to follow the process and not worry about the outcome. Take confidence from completing each segment on race day!
10. RECOVERY POST-RACE
Once you’ve finished your marathon it’s always very easy to neglect recovery. Rehydrating and getting some food on board post-race is important to help kick start your recovery. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying a well-earned post-race beer (or two), just make sure you’ve eaten enough and drunk plenty of water beforehand! During the days following the race consider some light cross-training such as walking, swimming or cycling to help aid the recovery process and relieve the soreness in tired muscles.