Hey guys, if you’re following my journey then you will know that I have a London Marathon charity spot for the 2018 marathon supporting Orchid Male Cancer Trust! I have never run a marathon before so I am as new to this as you may be and want to share everything I learn and experience along the way. This will my first post in what I hope to make into a mini series on how to train for your first marathon.
On top of my weekly running club, this year I have also run two half marathons and a handful of other running events. Attending these running events has already opened my eyes to some basic issues which you wouldn’t want to fall over on the day of your marathon so here are six things I’ve learned from running half marathons…
This is quite frankly my favourite part of the whole ordeal… I carb load like a king! A lot of runners don’t eat heavy the night before because they’re not used to big meals and so may find it harder to sleep. They eat a bagel or two a few hours before the start and then they’re off. That’s fine if you weight 10 stone and running is your sport, however for me I’m different. I am just over 15 and bit stone (mostly muscle) and running isn’t my favourite sport. Lifting big heavy weights in the gym is sport and because of my larger frame I need a lot more carbs and protein to power me and keep me powered.
I drink a minimum of 5 litres of water each day for three days leading up to my races as well as doubling most of my carb (rice/pasta) intake. For me when I am on the start line, I like to feel full and hydrated, I am there to enjoy the event and show people what I am made of. For me being 30-1 hour slower than others isn’t an issue as I would rather lift two to three times my body weight in the gym then be a pacey runner. If you fail to hydrate and carb load before your event, especially on half/full marathons then you have a recipe for disaster. I have run past too many people on race days who have failed to prepare and have passed out or are suffering with exhaustion because they have pushed their bodies to breaking point with little preparation.
Somewhat obvious to most but don’t be late to the event! I always see people scrambling to the start line panicking, not knowing where to go or stand. I can’t begin to explain how detrimental this can be to your race. For me I love to get to events nice and early so I can scope out the start line, make sure my bag is in the baggage area or with my spectators and most of all feel calm and relaxed before I race. The last thing you need is to be panicking and having your mind all over the place before racing, especially when you’re running a marathon! To have a successful race you need to be as prepared as possible, even if that means getting up in the early hours.
Before any running events I always check to see what the weather is going to be doing. I say ‘running events’ because when I complete obstacle races such as Tough Mudder, Spartan or the Nuclear Races, I honestly couldn’t care less about the weather as I will be soaked from head to toe in mud regardless. The reason I check the weather for running events is so I know what running apparel I need to wear. Will it be it raining, cold or breezy? A quick check online can save you from disaster!
I then try and gage myself how cold it really is and if I actually need to wear a jacket. I say this because a few times I have worn a jacket at the start line because it felt cold but before half way it’s almost always ditched with Kristy due to over heating. The way I see it is your body will warm up on the way around the track anyway, so unless you’re running in sub 12 degrees, never take a jacket.
That leads me nicely to my next point- wear the right apparel! The right clothing can make or break your run. I found this out first hand on my last half marathon because I wore the wrong type of sock. I have the correct running socks (like a seasoned runner should own) however they’re royal blue in colour! But when I ran the Royal Parks half marathon the other week I decided to be silly and wear non running Nike white socks because they matched better with my outfit. Big mistake. It cost me a PB time as after 15km (1 hour 18 minutes) I gained blisters on my feet so bad I could hardly walk which meant that I had to hobble the last 6km and looked like a fool for days after the event while my feet healed. Comfort before fashion people!
This step is fairly practical if you live or work by your race destination, it’s not as easy if you don’t, however not all is lost. I work in London so for me to run sections of the London Marathon isn’t too much hassle. I believe that studying the course and mentally preparing yourself can give you the edge over your competitors, especially when you’re 20 miles in and feeling tired. Knowing where you are and knowing that the end is near is what may be the difference between giving up or finishing! For those of you who don’t live near your race destinations, look them up online. I found this tip extremely helpful when I did my first Tough Mudder because I learnt what each obstacle consisted of and how many there were before I got there.
Something I have always done (because I’m not a strong runner) is split my course up into smaller distance chunks. For example when I run half marathons I split them up into four 5km events in my head. I know my 5km time is around 25-30 minutes and that I am more than comfortable running them so I do this to help me stay focused. If for example I start to flag or slow down near the end of my third 5km event I remind myself that I can run 5km in a good time and that I shouldn’t stop. You’d be amazed how quick your brain gives up compared to your body. So give your brain the kick up the arse it needs.
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