Training for your First Marathon

Tom is now in week 4 of his marathon training plan, it’s stuck up on the fridge, although apparently he doesn’t get the same satisfaction of crossing off a workout as I do, as the boxes remain unmarked until I remind him. I’ve had a couple of emails and messages about writing a post about training for your first marathon so here are my honest tips, reminders and advice, learnt the hard way over 4 training cycles!

Running Berlin Marathon

  • Don’t necessarily stick to your plan. Most plans aren’t tailor made, and a one size fits all policy won’t work with marathon training. If you’re plan says to run 8 miles but you’ve got a stinking cold and are feeling rubbish- don’t push through it and feel worse afterwards. I’m not saying skip training, but make sensible decisions when it comes to following the prescribed workouts.
  • Everyone will have an opinion- whether it’s on whether running marathons is bad for you, how much you should be training and so on. I personally love a 3-4 run training plan, whilst Tom’s coach has given him a 2 run a week plan. I am finding it really tough to bite my tongue when it comes to my opinion on my plan.
  • Listen to your body- if you feel a niggle somewhere, stretch, ice, see a physio etc, just don’t ignore it!
  • Rest days are just as important as run days!
  • Don’t just run, even if you’re a born runner, cross training, weights and stretching (yoga/pilates) are important tools in your marathon training. Don’t skip them! I personally used to do weights on my short run days then have a full day off after.
  • Recovery is vital, eat well, stretch, foam roll, relax- find what works for you. (I’ll be doing a whole post on this another time!)
  • Don’t obsess over your split times, enjoy some runs watch/app free and just enjoy the run.
  • Test your race day kit, especially your trainers. You’ll need a bit of time to break it in, but make sure they’re not so worn by the big day that they let you down. Similarly, if you can’t use headphones in your race, then practise without music. For the New York Marathon I trained mostly with a hydration pack, however they were banned during the race after the Boston bombings, so I had to switch to a handheld. I used my handheld on my longest run, 22 miles, to ensure it didn’t annoy me too much!
  • You will be hungry ALL THE TIME. It’s OK to eat lots as long as it’s lots of the good stuff, although I hear cake and a latte make a pretty great post run treat- protein, carbs, sugar and fat =recovery, right?
  • Look after your feet; take care of blisters, wear proper sports socks, dry your shoes, and don’t get an aggressive pedicure too close to marathon day! You need some of the hard callousy bits to protect you during the 26.2 miles!
  • You will only do one weekend run hungover, once is enough. It is awful.
  • Take loo paper on all of your long runs, you never know when you might get caught short! On that note, I always bring money and an oyster card too, and my phone for music/directions!
  • It’s hard to fit training into your probably already busy life, you will have to make some sacrifices but it will be worth it in the long run.

Have I missed anything? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or if you have any posts that you’d like to see. I’m always open to suggestions 🙂

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1 Comment

  1. January 25, 2015 / 10:27 am

    Hi! Loved this post! I’m just training for my first marathon (London) and felt guilty for the last few days for skipping some runs this week when I had a cold. Good to know it’s ok to alter things occasionally. Just a quick question – which hydration pack do you use? I’ve been doing some research but there are so many options out there!

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