So you've read all my posts and for some inexplicable reason you've decided that you too would like to run the marathon. What words of wisdom can I share?
- The biggest part of the commitment is the training. For 4 months before you will need to find time to do something like : one 30 minute interval run, one 30 minute reasonable pace run, two cross training sessions of about 45 minutes, one long run which gets up to 3 hours close to the day. These are not optional. There is no more "i don't feel like it" or "the weather isn't good enough".
- If you don't enjoy running you might want to consider taking up a different sort of challenge to the marathon. Any love of running you may have is severely tested by the schedule in point 1 above. It is no longer your choice to get out there and that's tough. The moonwalk is a good alternative. It's a marathon distance but at a walk.
- Stick to a training plan. No proper training plan will have you run 26.2 miles before the big day. A good plan allows you to go into the day believing you can do it.
- Invest in the right kit very early on. The challenge with training is that you don't have all the great support that you have during the event i.e. there is noone stood by the side of the road handing you water, there are no mile markers etc. I wore my trusty old trainers and specialist running socks. After the marathon I didn't have any blisters or sore bits. In fact I didn't even have sore feet! I use a Garmin Forerunner watch for tracking my runs and pace. I use a Nathan hydration rucksack for carrying water, gels and my phone. I also always had £20 with me in case I needed a taxi or something. I ran in all this kit on the day because I was used to it. I saw lots of people with new trainers and felt very sorry for them. There is a cost to this so think about that too before you commit.
- If you are injured rest. Swap to a different exercise that puts zero pressure on your injury. Make sure you have a physio ( I know I didn't but I'm stupid). There is a real urge to stick to your schedule and the more you push it, the longer you are likely to be out of the loop. If you're injured or ill, rest. Often a week off is better than a week of exercise!
- You need to hydrate as you run. Before the marathon training I never took a drink on a run. The right food before and the right hydration is the difference between recovering quickly and feeling permanently exhausted.
- Carb up. You can't afford to be paranoid about eating healthily when you are running lots. You're body needs fuel. Trust it and eat what you need to (and enjoy it because there will be few other times in your life that you will need to scoff yourself silly!)
- Don't just try and run further and faster. Marathon training is about balance. The biggest benefit to endurance, weight and fitness is from intervals where you sprint for a couple of minutes, then jog slowly for a minutes then repeat for a number of cycles. Unless you are mad you will probably hate these but they are so good for you they're worth it. They are also pretty good for proving if you have the mental strength for the marathon. If you can do these despite hating them you should be fine.
- Blog about it. When you have a crisis in confidence you can look back on early posts and see how far you have come. I looked back and saw that this time last year I was considering extending my run to 2 miles once a week to really stretch myself.
- If you are going to do it with someone else, make sure you've run with them before the day itself. By all means support each other through the training but the marathon is ultimately between your head and the 26.2 miles. Just because you don't finish together, it doesn't mean you don't share the achievement.
That's about it (unless I have an idea later!). My last bit of advice would be to let your family read my blog on my marathon and this post because it will take a LOT if your time away from them and if they don't support you it's going to be nigh on impossible.