Having only ran two marathons in my life, I’m probably not in any position to be giving tips on the subject, however I feel that from someone who could only run three miles at the beginning of the year I decided to do my first one, I can probably relate to anyone who fancies their chances at doing one!
Three miles when you don’t consider yourself a ‘runner’ can be a fair distance, my Mum will never let me live down the day she beat me at the race for life… however many marathons or triathlons I may have done since! Once you discover a really good run route, hit a new mileage or make a new PB, you get the running bug… and 3 miles soon becomes 26.2!
My first marathon certainly did not go to plan, if there is one tip I can pass on…
1. DO NOT EAT SEA FOOD SUCH AS OCTOPUS THE WEEKEND OF THE RACE, food poisoning may be on the horizon and throwing your guts up on race day after months of training is not fun!!
2. Don’t run 6 million times a week…
When I have spoken to some people about marathon training, its quite common for people to say they don’t have time to train for another, it takes up too much going out for a run everyday. I have never done more then 3 runs in a week in prep for a marathon… and I don’t intend to (until I start training for my first Ultra). I actually only do 2 runs a week until the last month or two when I add in another! I honestly think 2 shorter runs (6 mile max) and one long run (13-18 miles) is enough… running everyday is just asking for an injury!
3. Forget about your pace and find some hills
I know that speed training is supposed to be great training, but leave that for shorter sessions at the track. Longer runs over the weekend don’t need to be ran at what you think ‘race pace’ is, that will come on the day! Instead of being fixated on your pace and trying to be faster, think about time on your legs. I swear by really tough, off road, hilly slow runs to make my legs stronger. After months of doing those kind of runs, the flat roads feel like you’re flying!
Nutrition is key, and I really don’t just mean stocking up with gels for race day. Long runs need to be fuelled by proper food, that’s before, during and after. If you do want to use gels, make sure to practice with them before the race… the last thing you need is an uncomfortable tummy, your blisters, chafing and legs will cause you pain enough by the time you hit those last 8 miles!
5. Don’t go too fast too soon
I learnt this with my first one and amended it for the second one, which was much less painful! It is really easy to get carried along by the crowd of runners, which is always very big for the first 10k. You’re running a marathon, you feel great, and you want to up the pace because of this… this is fine until you ‘hit the wall’. I had been warned many, many times of doing this by my run group (the group consists of many experienced marathon runners and ironman competitors… they know their stuff), but this didn’t stop me on the day. I knew every time I glanced down at my Garmin that I was running faster then my comfortable pace, I was dubious as to how this would continue, but I felt great, so why not try it! Once I hit mile 19, I honestly never thought I would finish, everything hurt!! I paced myself much better for my second one… no wall in sight!