The festive period has just finished and unlike other years, you have a lot more time before you really need to get stuck into that training plan. The real hard work doesn’t begin until a few months from now, however that doesn’t mean you cannot get out running to test the waters.
Here are our top tips to get you going!
The New Year period can be a great time to establish a good routine. If you are off work use this extra time to set the pattern you’ll continue later in the spring by getting the frequency of training going. Don’t aim for anything super hard or too long, too far or too soon. Use this time to establish that routine and build the base miles. You can run a great marathon off three runs a week if you are clever and consistent! For the more experienced it might be 5-6 runs or more but be sure you can recover day-to-day and that you are looking after yourself. Above all else, be flexible and when you can, run with a smile.
Plan it out
Working to a structured and progressive training plan will see you getting fitter, faster, and in a safe way. Check out my Brighton Marathon plans, adapt them to suit your needs but pick out the key long runs & faster sessions getting them ring fenced for the new year.
Get it in the diary
Once you have a plan it’s time to schedule in your key runs and crucially book in for one or two other races which will help break down that big 16 week block of training. You might consider a couple of half marathon races during March or April, one of which you aim to run faster at PB pace, one of which you aim to run at your target marathon pace. These races will boost confidence and give you short-term goals. It’s also lovely to run with others.
Don’t just run
Both core and strength training as well as cardiovascular cross training can be huge in allowing you to hold your form in long runs and on race day. Aim for at least two small core conditioning sessions each week. We have further tips in our training area and race plans on this key element.
Find your threshold
‘Threshold’ running is a term you will see a lot in our training plans, for a good reason! Threshold training is the golden zone of fitness for a distance runner and you’ll see it in your plan for most of your 16 week blocks of training. These runs involve running blocks of time at a ‘controlled discomfort’ or 3-4 word answer effort. Take care not to run these efforts too hard, they are hard but controlled. A great way to start would be a 30-40 minute run to include 3-4 x 5 minutes at 3-4 word answer effort with a 90 second jog recovery…These sessions will build as the as the weeks go by.
Kit yourself out!
Training through the UK’s varied seasons is a lot more pleasurable in the right gear. Lightweight, wicking, running specific clothing in the spring and breathable, warm, light waterproof clothing in the winter will help to remove those ‘natural’ excuses! Ensure you run in shoes that are suited to your gait but that are also lightweight and promote a natural foot strike. See a good running specialist for advice on choosing the right shoe for you.
Hit the trails
Getting off road and tackling many of your runs on grass, trails and softer surfaces will leave you stronger and also reduce the impact of constantly pounding the pavements. Consider getting yourself a pair of trail shoes with good grip which can provide stability for you as you tackle your weekly runs.
Most newer runners tend to try to run too far, too fast, too soon. Patience is key – if you are very new start with a mix of running and brisk walking for example 4 x 3-5 minutes easy run, 1 minute brisk walk. If you are a bit more experienced make sure you don’t get greedy on your easy runs – these should still be fully conversational! Endurance is built through patience and slow running at the speed of chat will build much of your marathon background. Train to time and don’t chase the miles….injury can soon follow if not.
It’s amazing what a difference running with other people can make. Head down to your local running club and see what they are offering at the moment or chat to family and friends also training for a marathon and arrange to meet up on a weekly basis for your long run or one of your faster sessions – you’ll support each other and definitely stay on track if part of a team!
Recover and improve
Your body gets fitter when you rest. Make sure you have at least one full rest day in your plan each week, look to a broad varied diet with healthy carbohydrates and a full mix of vitamins and minerals and make sure you’re getting good sleep by banishing smart phones from the bedroom and aiming for a consistent pre-sleep routine wherever possible. To be honest, getting to bed 30 mins earlier most nights will have a bigger impact on marathon fitness than chasing silly extra miles.