For many runners the turn of the year marks the start of spring Marathon training. If you’re aiming for any of the fantastic spring events in the UK or internationally, then it’s time to make a start on getting yourself ready. A strong base built over the next few weeks will provide an essential platform for the bigger runs as you get closer to race day.
Set a routine
The early months are all about developing good patterns and routines. Have a look at your lifestyle, work and family life and decide what is a realistic number of sessions to aim for each week without over doing it. Get these down in the diary and work to build a consistent pattern each week.
Find your frequency
If your goal is to get around the marathon you can achieve a great deal from four runs a week. The first thing that you need to work on is building frequency and consistency into your running. At this stage don’t push too hard or head out for super long runs. Developing a regular pattern of three-four runs a week covering 30-40 minutes is a great platform to build from. Aim to build SHARE YOUR GOALS – whilst you will be one doing the hard miles friends and family play a huge role in supporting you on your journey. Share your goal now and surround yourself with positive people – you may even find a few who will train with you!
Plan your campaign
Working to a training plan will help provide you with a structure and confidence that you have given yourself the best chance to run a top performance on race day. Get your dairy out and look ahead to those key months of marathon training (the final 10-12 weeks before the race) and determine where you may have obstacles and pinch points in your training. Work deadlines, travel, family holidays can all impact on your training. Being aware of these early can help you plan around them adapting the training plan to suit your lifestyle.
Lay the building blocks
Try to imagine the first two months of your training as the foundations of your house. They need to be strong and stable. Patience is the key now so build your running slowly and consistently and focus on plenty of easy conversational paced running. If you are new to marathon training, start with a mix of running and walking then aim to reduce the walking breaks little by little in the first few weeks.
Start a training diary
A training diary, either on paper or online, can be a really useful tool to track your progress through the months of training. It will be really motivating in the final weeks building up to the marathon to look back at how far you have come and how much you have achieved. A training diary is also a great help in being able to identify what is going well and also a good source of clues when looking for reasons a niggle or tiredness has crept in – knowledge is power!
Get an mot
Most runners wait until they get sore or pick up an injury before they start to consider their biomechanics, areas of tightness or existing niggles that may be latent. Consider getting an ‘MOT’ from a good local sports physiotherapist who will be able to give you specific advice around potential injury warning signs and help you with one or two key exercises to help support your body cope with the miles to come.
Focus on progression
After you have a plan in place and a sense of the variety and range of different runs you are aiming to complete, the next step is to focus on progressing your training gradually and slowly. In these early weeks the goal is the build the foundations of your campaign so look to build your overall volume by no more than 10-15% each week, adding 10-15 minutes on your long run.
Staying warm and staying healthy
As you run your immune system gets a tough going over!
Get yourself warm immediately after your run - the immune system is low after hard interval sessions or long runs. Make sure you bring spare clothes with you to the gym, club or your own sessions – removing damp clothes immediately after your session and cooling down in dry, warm clothes to help stop you picking up bugs and infections. Get indoors too for your post run stretching.
Curb the excesses
Those rewards! One of the wonderful things about training regularly is that it does allow you to have a period of enjoying good food and the odd drink. Recognise however that your diet, sleep and recovery are all very closely linked to your training and your progression. Make sure you ring fence your training time in your diary and consider getting your runs done earlier in the day to free up more time for some evening relaxation sometimes.
By taking on board these initial directions to your training, you’re setting yourself up for success later in the year. Good Luck!