On Sunday, 25 April 2015, thousands of runners will descend on London to take part in the London Marathon. They may be there to set a personal best, tick something off the list of things to achieve in life or be driven by the opportunity to raise money and awareness for charities that are close to their hearts. In 2014, charity runners generated a staggering £53.2m. I am sure that 2015 will be another record year and I wish everyone the best of luck.
As I am currently in the middle of my own charity fundraising expedition I can’t really donate back to all those people who have been so incredibly generous to me over the years but I thought maybe I could jot down some things that have helped me train for various running events over the years. They are not rocket science but they may just help some runners get through the endless days of training and may just make it all a little more enjoyable.
Dress like an athlete – preform like an athlete
I have always felt that what you wear helps how you perform. When I have worn a baggy t-shirt, old shorts and odd socks I have felt less athletic and as a result have started each run with a less than motivate state of mind. When I have worn nice crisp colourful clothes I feel like a proper runner before I even leave the house. If you are running for a charity then ask if they have a charity top and you will feel like part of their team and that will give you extra motivation. I have been on my current running expedition for over 180 days and every day I make sure I look as presentable as possible and I am sure that plays a big part in getting me to the end of each day.
Make it an adventure
Training doesn’t have to be running round the same park each day. Monotony can make running boring and demotivate you. I love being adventurous and running gives you that opportunity. If you are running home from work then try and find a different route each day, visit different parks or landmarks. At the weekends find a tube stop the right distance away from your house and go there and run home. You’ll be amazed at how different scenery will bring the magic back to running. I discovered so much about London.
Pile through those box sets
For those who are not used to running long distances and the idea of getting out there in the cold is less than appealing don’t feel bad about going to the gym and using a running machine. I did so much training on the treadmill, just make sure you put the gradient at 2. People say that treadmills are boring but if you make yourself watch a whole episode of your favourite drama then the boredom will soon disappear. I got through eight seasons of Breaking Bad and Dexter! It will also mean you won’t want to get off for at least 45 minutes!
Running with groups is exhilarating and good fun and the London marathon doesn’t have to be the first time you line up for the big start. Park Run (www.parkrun.org.uk) is an organisation that coordinate 5km runs in parks all over the UK. The ones I have taken part in have been early on a Saturday morning and it’s a great way to start your weekend and make sure your “training” doesn’t get in the way of your valuable free time. The other plus is that you may actually meet some other marathon trainees who live near you. Another good source of runs is your local running clothes shop. I know Crewroom – Putney (www.crewroom.biz) do!
Everyone associates marathon running with injuries, be it losing toe nails, getting blisters or damaging joints. I have run 5750km in the last 6 months and I still have all my toenails and I have not had one blister! I have only been injured twice and both were my fault! To avoid blisters I would highly recommend getting some 1000 Miles Socks (www.1000mile.co.uk). I have used three pairs and they have all done over 1000 miles and apart from the smell they are still doing amazingly! To avoid major injuries get good running shoes that are suited to your running style. I love the Nike Vomero! If you don’t know your running style then go somewhere like ProFeet (www.profeet.co.uk). Don’t be scared that they will just force you to buy expensive insoles –they didn’t with me. I learnt about how my foot strikes the ground and was given exercises that would help me offset any potential problems.
And finally make sure your running shoes are in good condition. I wore a pair down so much that I got knee and hip problems to the point I couldn’t run. Just by getting new shoes all was back to normal in a matter days.
My view on gels….
Every time I see someone preparing for a marathon they have lots of gels… I have used one gel and probably won’t again… I had got to mile 20 and was dying. I grabbed a gel and was immediately refuelled but only or a very short time. When the sugar surge had gone I felt worse and still had 4 more miles to run. Think about what your body needs and make sure you give what it wants at the right time. Everyone is different so I am not going to prescribe what to do but don’t get to the day before the marathon and think a gel will power you to the finish.
Get a realistic training schedule
I have heard so many people talking about the training schedules and how they need to do big (20 mile +) runs in the build-up to the big day. I disagree! I never ran over 18 miles when training for a marathon. Get fit and comfortable doing longer runs but make sure you are rested, injury free and well-motivated on marathon day. Adrenaline and people cheering you one will get you through the rest!
Finally have fun…
Running is fun so enjoy it. Endorphins will race through your blood and make you feel amazing! On marathon day thousands of people will be there cheering you on and the sense of satisfaction (and maybe relief) will make it all worthwhile.
Good luck to everyone who is taking part…. You’ll be amazing!