That’s a lie actually – in my case anyway! It’s now 16 weeks until the Yorkshire Marathon, and as most marathon training plans are 16 weeks long most people who are following one will be officially starting today. For some reason the plan I’ve chosen to follow, the Women’s Running Magazine Improver’s Plan, is only 14 weeks long, so I’ve got another two weeks of sitting around eating cake until then. I wish! With all the cycling I’ve been doing recently my legs have almost forgotten how to run, so I really need to get back into the groove and put in some miles before I start. It has more running than the beginner’s plan I did for the Manchester Marathon so I’m not sure how I’ll cope with it, but I’m going to give it a whirl and see how it goes.
For the benefit of those taking on marathon training for the first time, here are a few quick top tips that I hope might help you along the way.
Don’t just run aimlessly, follow a training schedule. These plans are devised by people who know a lot more about running than most of us. Take advantage of expert knowledge! And be aware that marathon training isn’t just about running…
Try to fit in some form of core training like yoga, Pilates or body pump. I’d never done this before training for Manchester and it helped me hugely. Being stronger improves your running posture, which helps to prevent injury.
Warm up before a run by walking or jogging slowly, not by stretching. Static stretching is bad for cold muscles – I don’t know why they always do it in the warm-up before mass running events. However, it’s great to do it after running to aid recovery and prevent stiffness.
Consider mixing in some cross-training such as cycling or swimming, especially if you aren’t exactly in the first flush of youth (like me) or if you pick up an injury – but do take advice from your physio on this.
Eat well. This is massively important, much more so than most people realise. Eating healthily and fuelling yourself in the right way will make training less hard and more enjoyable, I promise you! The right foods can also help you to recover better and avoid injury. If you’re not sure what to eat check out my post Marathon Nutrition for Beginners.
Have a regular sports massage if you can afford it. They aren’t just for elite athletes or when you’re injured! Doing this once a month is a great way to keep everything ticking over nicely, a bit like servicing a car.
Get involved in the running community for support and encouragement, whether that means joining a running club, linking up with fellow marathoners on social media or just buying a running magazine. It really helps with motivation. Whatever problem you encounter someone else has already been there and can help you! A couple of Facebook groups I really like are York Runners and Mums on the Run (you don’t have to be a mum to join, just a woman!).
Listen to your body! If something hurts after a run, rest for a couple of days. If it still hurts after that, see a physiotherapist. Don’t run with an injury, you’ll only make it worse. Better to arrive at the start line slightly undertrained than injured or not at all!
Most importantly of all, enjoy your training – remember, your marathon experience isn’t just about race day, but the whole process from right now until 20th October. Along the way you’ll learn a lot about yourself and achieve things you never thought possible.
Good luck with training and enjoy the journey everyone!