Training for a marathon? Get a load of this! Members of the Run4It team spill the beans on the BEST and WORST marathon advice they’ve ever been given, to help you run the 26.2 mile distance happy!
Follow these tips to avoid any training and race day blunders that will risk undoing all your hard work…
Best: “If you can’t manage a training run due to injury or feel in need of a break from running, jump on an exercise bike or elliptical trainer for the same length time you’d be on your run.” This helps keep your body fit and strong!
Worst: “You cannot overtrain, especially for your first marathon.” Total rot. You can! Stick to the 10% rule which and never increase your weekly mileage by more than 10% on the previous week, to avoid injury and fatigue.”
Jordan, Glasgow Giffnock
Best: “Incorporate protein into your post-run recovery routine.” It’s given me a massive boost and allowed me to maintain my high mileage over the course of my training journey. I’ve recovered faster and been able to train sooner after hard sessions.
Worst: “It’s the same as running two half marathons!” I’m afraid it’s not folks. Not even close. In a full marathon you ‘hit the wall’ (usually somewhere around mile 20) and everything becomes immensely more difficult. With a marathon, you face the physiological challenge of running out of stored glycogen and forcing yourself mentally to push through it. Train smart using a marathon-specific training program and good recovery nutrition/recovery techniques to keep your body in balance and get yourself marathon-ready.
Best: “Get your nutrition spot on by practicing your nutrition and hydration strategy beforehand during your long training runs.” I took an energy gel every 4 miles during London Marathon and practised this in all my long runs leading up to race day. It helps to master the art of opening gels while you’re on the move. I’d get the gel in my hand ready to eat 1/4 mile before my target 4 miles – sounds crazy, but it allowed me to break the distance down into 4 mile chunks.
Worst: “Stop drinking water in the days leading up to race day, to avoid toilet breaks.” Worst idea ever. Keep yourself hydrated!!!
Mandy, Bridge of Allan
Best: “Don’t run junk miles!” Long slow distance makes long slow runners. Training at an effort of 85% or more of your VO2max will produce better results than pounding the pavement slowly just to cover 26.2 miles in training. Also, you’re only as good as how quickly you recover. Make a recovery protocol early and stick to it. Prehab work on mobility and stability will make you more efficient and better prepare you for training.
Worst: “Just run longer each time.” There are plenty of free, basic periodisation training plans out there backed by research. You’ve got no excuse not to follow one.
Chiara, Edinburgh Maybury
Best: “Learn what to expect from the course and anticipate the conditions.” Study the course profile and plan your race strategy. Downhill in the first half? Don’t run it too hard. Hill at the end? Expect it and have the strength left to power up it. You can’t control the weather, but if you are prepared in all other areas, then all you need to do is execute on the day!
Worst: “Run the first mile as fast as possible to beat the crowds.” Nah! Always stick to your practised pace!
Best: “Never wear new shoes on race day!” Tried and tested is the way to go. If you’re going to take on 26.2 miles, you need to ensure your running in shoes that are right for your feet – and that they’re properly bedded-in to avoid any nasty surprises on race day!
Worst: “Give fuel supplies to your spectators to carry and give to you.” DO NOT rely on your spectators to feed you energy gels or drinks at certain (pre-agreed) points on the marathon course. With the best will in the world, things might not go quite to plan. The barriers at mile 17 could be jam-packed so your cheer squad are forced on. You might end up on the opposite side of the raceway. It’s best to carry enough fuel on you to see you through the 26.2 miles, so nothing can throw you off!
Best: “Run your own race!” Getting through 26.2 miles is tough no matter who you are. It sounds really obvious, but concentrate on your run. Don’t worry about people setting off like rockets, or running past you – you will more than likely pass them later on! Set yourself small milestones, breaking up the course into manageable chunks. Once you’ve hit half way, you can begin to count down the miles, then minutes!
Worst: “Have a rigid “do or die” time goal in mind and meet it.” Having a strict time goal, say to finish in 3 hours 45 minutes, can be motivating, but also a source of negative thoughts and feelings of disappointment if things don’t go quite to plan. Be flexible with your goals. Aim to finish within a certain time range i.e. between 3 hours 45 mins and 4 hours 5 mins and so you’re well-equipped to overcome any adversities on the day (bad weather, a surprise tumble or fall and such like).
Best: “Once you hit the 20 mile marker you only have 10k left, and anyone running a marathon is capable of running 10k!” That helped me a lot at mile 20!
Worst: “Run every day!” You don’t need to. 4 runs a week is more than enough. (Ron Hill won’t be happy at this one…)
Graeme, Edinburgh Maybury
Best: “Write your name on your vest/t-shirt so people can call out your name and cheer you on!” The roars and support of the crowd will give you instant energy and motivation!
Worst: “Don’t take the gels the race offers you unless you’ve tried them before.” Because if you’ve got less than 5k or 10k to go and you feel you need the extra energy, you’d be silly to not use it!
Astrid, Edinburgh Maybury