It’s that time of year again where I and many other people start marathon training. I did my first marathon this year and many of you patiently read my training page and provided encouragement along the way. Now that I’m an old pro I’m not going to bore you with my training again – but you may get the odd post where I’m either complaining about the training or telling you how much I love running! Just think, a marathon can’t be that bad if I signed up to do another one. (OK, I’ve actually signed up to do two – but I can’t bring myself to really think about that yet)
Following my post on tips for new runners, I thought I would share some tips I learned when becoming a marathoner.
1. Training is everything. For all race distances you should follow a schedule, but for marathon training it is really a must. Training at different paces for different distances will definitely help get you around.
2. Training shortcuts = no finish! I was really shocked to see how many people were walking and looking like they were going to die early on in the marathon – you see this in half marathons too, but I always thought anyone who would sign up for a marathon would know enough about running to take it seriously. If you don’t have the time to do all of the training runs you need to do minus one or two – don’t do the race.
3. Eating and drinking are key. In a half-marathon you can get away with not drinking enough or not eating anything. Many people either do not finish a marathon or finish it feeling absolutely terrible because they haven’t eaten or drunk enough. You need to experiment to find out what you can eat and keep down. I eat little and often and drank more than I thought I needed (and still should have drunk more probably).
4. If you can do all the training, you can do the race. The training is worse than the race in so many ways – all those super long runs by yourself, trying to work out where to go, knowing you can just stop…the training is torture. The race may be longer but at least you know when you’re done you’re done and it’s the last of your long runs!
5. Keep things interesting. You have a lot of time to yourself when running. Some people like to listen to music or podcasts, or mentally sort out their problems. The point is this is actually quite useful mental time and if you keep your mind busy it’s easier to forget how long you’re running for! Going out at different times of day or on different routes also helps. Even buying new running clothes becomes inspirational.
6. Post-run recovery. I discovered quite late in my training the benefits of sports massage and of using a foam roller to attack your muscles. I’m lazy and like to stop without stretching or using the roller, but when you start racking up miles these things really help you feel better and can stop you getting injured. I also found a recovery drink that seemed to help immediate muscle soreness. All of these things made a big difference to my training.
You will find that all runners love to talk about their running. A unexpected bonus of running: non-runners have no concept of time or distance when it comes to running and think anything you do sounds impressive!