Marathon tips, Running, Training

Getting there – 16 miles done!

The one thing I need to give me marathon confidence is distance.  The one thing I’ve really failed at this year? Yep you guessed it.

This weekend I knew time was running out and I had to get some big miles done.  Slightly hampered by two things – one, a wedding the day before, and two, a big chunk of my normal running route shut because of a SkyRide.  Thanks Sky!

Rather than try and work out a new long crazy route I went for a boring mental challenge instead.  I ran to the race course (2ish miles) then did 6 laps of the service road (also 2ish miles per lap) before running home.  It was pretty dull but at least I knew where I was going and I saw lots of nice dogs.   I chose an audio book rather than music and it worked quite nicely.

When I got home, I had 16.25 miles in the bag.  Hooray! I took one bottle of water and one caffeine gel and there were some walk breaks, but I’m expecting to have some walk breaks on the marathon so I’m not too stressed about that.  As long as they’re managed and structured rather than an elaborate collapse I’m happy.

I find thirst and carrying enough water a massive problem on long runs – to the point where I’m looking at other people with drinks and wondering if they’d mind if I asked them for just a little sip? The husband suggested next week I drive to the race course and load up the car with water and snacks so I can keep replenishing when I run out.  Sounds like a plan to me!

Marathon training…plus picnic breaks 🙂

I’m off to Italy for a few days now so no training AGAIN, but next weekend I plan to do 20+ miles.  That’s a lot of racecourse laps!

Happy running this week.

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Diet, Marathon tips, Training

Marathon Training Diet

My approach to marathon training wasn’t just about running.  I approached it holistically and tried to make changes in all areas of my life, from how much sleep I was getting to what I was eating.

I worked out a diet plan with help from my personal trainer.  It required some quite significant changes but the results were amazing.

My previous diet was usually based around:

  • Breakfast – porridge or granola
  • Lunch – white bread and cheese sandwich
  • Evening meal – pasta, or beans on toast, or casserole
  • Snacks – cakes, yoghurts, chocolate bars, some fruit, lots of tea and coffee

I thought this diet was okay – maybe a bit too much sugar but nothing too hideous.

My new diet looked like this:

  • Breakfast – porridge or wholemeal bagels and honey, banana
  • Lunch – couscous and mackerel, chicken salad wraps
  • Evening meal – wholemeal pasta or chicken, rice and vegetables
  • Snacks – fruit, yoghurt, one cup of coffee a day and then fruit tea

The initial change was stupendous.  I had a couple of woozy days as my caffeine and sugar intake reduced, but after that I found I had much more stable energy to use for longer as I wasn’t peaking and troughing.  I also slept much better.  I was eating a lot so I didn’t feel like I was being cheated or starved, and I still ate out one night a week with wine if I wanted it.

My weight went up when I was marathon training but I wasn’t too worried about it – since the marathon finished 2kg has just fallen off.  In the week after the marathon I ate horrendously, but I’m getting back to a happy medium now.  Basing all meals around a mix of protein, carbs and veggies is a simple way to get what you need – and get to the right weight for you.   It’s surprising how much fuel you need when you’re training, and I think the number one top tip is don’t be hungry!

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Diet, Marathon tips, Training

Marathon Training Tips

It’s been a long journey to my first marathon.  I trained for 6 months, following the Virgin London Marathon intermediate plan but adding much longer runs than they suggested each Sunday.

These are my top 5 training tips:

1) Use a plan and stick to it

At the start of each week, I wrote what I needed to do in my diary so there was no chance of me forgetting what I needed to do each day.  If there were some runs that didn’t quite fit (for example a long run on a day I knew I’d only be running to the gym and back) I swapped them around so that I still did all the days, not necessarily in right order.

The confidence of going into a marathon knowing you have trained as much as you possibly can is invaluable

2) Cross train

As well as running, I did spin classes, weight training, yoga and even some rock climbing.  6 days of running every week left me with ankle pain, so I turned some runs into spins to give my body chance to recover.  Cross training helps you to be strong all over – running is about your core and upper body strength as well as your legs.

3) Set a goal, and be realistic

For my first marathon, I said I’d be happy with any time under 5 hours.  I could translate this into a mile pace and relate that to my training.  As long as I was achieving that pace in my long runs, I knew I’d be okay.  If I’d set an unachievable goal I would have hated my training and started the marathon ready to fail.

4) Do high miles if you want to

Most marathon training plans only take you to about 18 miles.  Because I was so scared, I did a 22.2 mile run as my longest training run, about a month before.   I needed to do it build my confidence, so it was right for me.

5) Approach your training holistically

I didn’t just run for my marathon training.  I changed my whole diet, slept more and boozed less.  The 2 weeks before the marathon, I ate cleanly and had no booze at all.  Changing my diet has led to long term benefits, both the husband and I are sleeping better and have more energy.

Training for a marathon can give you good habits that carry on into your future life.  My training plan gave me focus and strength during a very tough year, and I loved the training as much (if not more) than the  marathon itself.

What are your top training tips?

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