I’m at that age where people left, right and centre seem to be signing up to run a marathon… (I didn’t know that you’d ever done any physical activity since leaving school but waheeeey ok why not)
Running a marathon is one of those beautifully pretentious acts that allows you to feel smug forever more and to be perceived as a true hero for years to come.
that face = eternal smugness
But before you can bask in your super fitness glory you need to prepare yourself. Big time.
Although I’ve only ran one half marathon and one full marathon (proper rookie over here.) I’m going to give my 2 cents and document my best tips for marathon preparation..
1. Don’t underestimate the distance/experience
Everyone will tell you how hard it is. Everyone will tell you how long it is. Everyone will tell you how rewarding it is when you finish. It’s all of those things; don’t believe it will be any different than that for you.
2. Know your course
Most marathons will have the course available to download with information of terrain, altitude, incline etc. Study this to prepare yourself. Practice hills if it’s a hilly course, train on the road if it’s a road race! I’ll never understand people who only run through fields and on grass before a road race. You’ll arrive on the day of the marathon and your knees will be like F you mate, you’re on your own baaaai.
Also, stalk peoples blogs to see how they’ve found the run in previous years. Their experience will be vital if it’s a smaller race with less info on their website. The better you know your course, the better you can physically and mentally prepare for it.
3. Food glorious food.
Oh the pre marathon diet. Some love the whole ‘let’s nourish my body!’ period, others loathe it and focus on everything they’re missing out on. Mate, adapting your food is honestly the most beneficial and enjoyable part of your training and you can tailor it to totally work in your favour. Carbo loading = all the pasta. You can eat pizza! You can eat chocolate! You can go out and drink. Just don’t be an idiot about it and take it too far.
I just added more protein to my diet, totally cut out processed food and went for frequent small meals instead of fewer large ones (YES you can finally prep your meals in tupperware boxes like a top class knob). Add all the veg. Eat all the fruit and plan your meals around your training. I spent like 2 months eating non stop and still losing weight. Just lots of good food. Keep clementines in your bag, dried fruit, banana chips, whatever. Drink so much water and green tea that you spend half of your life on the loo. Happy days. A runners diet is nowhere near as bad as a bodybuilders diet.
4. track your runs
If you track your progress you can keep tabs on how you’re getting better. If you don’t keep track how do you know what’s effecting your performance? I used to have my Nike + app in my ear reeling off stats every kilometre, it’s super repetitive but I could predict my time of each run almost to the second. I then knew how new aspects threw me off or helped me along the way, e.g. a 15KM on a sunny day after a McDonalds was going to be 3 mins slower than one on an average temp day with no burger.
5. whats your motivation?
What’s that one thing that drags you out of bed and into your smelly trainers? What voice is telling you to turn down social plans for an evening in the gym? Why did you just casually drop £78 in NikeTown? If there’s nothing spurring you on then you’ll give up real quick, TRUSS MI DADDY. Realise your motivation early on and keep it at the forefront of your thinking. I once set a photo of a marathon medal as my phone background as a constant reminder. Very sad, I know, but bish I did not give up!
6. cheater cheater compulsive eater
Cheat meals and cheat weeks are the essence of life. Gurrrll (or guy) just live once in a while. Let your self slip off the bandwagon. Hell, trip over the bandwagon and break it into a million pieces. You WILL slip up. Build a bridge and quit crying. //embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js
7. be consistent
That being said… try and keep your training as consistent as possible. If you like yoga on a Tuesday afternoon, go every week! If you prefer early morning runs to after work ones then stick with that. If you have a routine you’re way more likely to stick with it
8. rest and recover
Radox muscle therapy bubble bath will be heaven sent. So will bath salts. Adopt a consistent stretching method and commit a good 20 mins to cooling down from a run. I used this one and adapted it over time to include more yoga poses.
Rest day is a reward in itself, don’t ever skip it because you think you’re invincible. Buying yourself a new pair of shoes after a week of solid training is totally acceptable. Buy yourself all the treats. Have a bubble bath every once in a while. Watch a tacky reality show while you work out. Rewards are yours if you put in the hard work.
10. have fun
Believe it or not, at some point this seemed like a great idea. Maybe once upon a time you actually liked running!? I found the fun parts were the classes I went to to keep up my fitness and cooking new meals at home. I wish I’d found more running buddies with similar goals. But yeah, make it fun. I’m all about making your playlist upbeat and going to classes which you’d not normally go to because why the hell not.
11. it’s all in your head
I don’t care if you’ve heard it before – running is 10% physical and 90% mental. This is probably the most valuable thing I’ve learnt since I started taking running seriously; your mental outlook is the most important part. If you tell yourself you’re tired, broken and can’t go on, you’ll give up! It’s cheesy and cliche but you 100% need to have a positive outlook if you stand a chance of crossing the finish line. You can train and eat right and have the most snazzy sports bra but if your heads not in the right space you will fail. So, invest in some positive thinking books or apps, tell yourself you can and will do it and keep going.
You got this.