The London marathon is one of the most exciting events in the sporting calendar, and unlike many major athletic events, it’s one that we can all aspire to competing in. Have you ever dreamed about crossing the finish line at the Mall?
If so, you’ve now got a whole year to start thinking about your training regime, PB goals and, of course, what you’re going to wear while you’re running. To get you in the mood, we teamed up with first-time London Marathon runner and veteran Iron Man competitor for Windrush Triathlon Club, Laura Addis for some top tips on how to gear up for The Big One. We’re also giving away a Fitbit Blaze sportswatch to help you stick to your goals – sorry, this competition is now closed.
Laura is fundraising for Mencap with her Marathon debut, so please dig deep if you’d like to help her donate to this fantastic cause.
Read on for her tips
The good news is that in Laura’s opinion, a year is plenty of time to get in shape for a Marathon, even if you’re starting from scratch. It all depends on your goals: whether you ‘just want to get round’ or have a particular time in mind.
A good way to approach your training plan is to think carefully first about how much time you can commit to training. ‘Be realistic’, says Laura: If you go in too hard at the start, with a punishing daily schedule, you’re more likely to quit later on. Most training plans involve running 3-4 days each week, but it can be better to mix up the running with cross-training, which will reduce your chance of injury while keeping fitness levels high.
Cherish your core
The point about mixing up your training regime is an important one: Laura advises that you take part in some regular core-strengthening work in particular, as this will help to ensure you’re not over-using certain muscles, which in turn can protect against injury. Yoga and Pilates are popular ways to improve core strength, but you could also work on these muscles at the gym with a strength and conditioning programme.
Train in the kit you’re going to wear
When embarking on a Marathon it’s more important than ever to get the right kit, as it will be with you all the way. Many runners have been inconvenienced or even injured by wearing shoes and other items that didn’t fit properly or suit their running style, but you’ve got a year to guard against any potential wardrobe malfunctions that could slow you down on the day.
A particular concern is of course the dreaded blister: ‘these could get worse as your speed improves’, Laura warns, so your footwear needs may evolve as your fitness increases.
Laura’s trusty marathon shoes
Remember you can return many items to retailers including Wiggle, The North Face and John Lewis using CollectPlus, so we recommend buying items in a range of sizes to ensure you end up with a fit that you’d be happy to run 26 miles in. You can then send back any that don’t quite fit.
Don’t scrimp on socks!
Your feet will soon be of paramount importance, so seemingly small matters like socks will be some of your greatest allies. ‘I swear by wearing good quality socks to avoid getting blisters’, Laura told us: ‘The pair I’m currently wearing by Hilly have two layers of fabric that move over each other and so reduce the friction on your feet.’ These are available at Wiggle, and also at John Lewis.
Running the Marathon is a big commitment, and by deciding to do it you’ll be in for the long haul when it comes to training and endurance. Laura recommends thinking carefully about your motivations at the start of your training, as keeping this impetus in mind will help you to stay focused when you’re finding it tough – a situation that all runners experience from time to time.
Different runners have their own motivations for taking on challenging events, so you’ll know what factors are likely to push you further. In Laura’s case, running for Mencap is an important and personal motivation, as she’s seen first hand how the charity has provided invaluable support her sister throughout her life – donate to Laura’s Marathon for Mencap over at JustGiving.
A great way to ensure you stick to your schedule is to attend a regular running event such as parkrun, which is a free timed 5K that takes place weekly in many of the UK’s public parks. Runners of all ages and abilities regularly take part in these events, and you may find that joining up helps you to stick to a routine. Find your nearest parkrun here.
Getting your food and drink intake right can be a tricky balancing act as a long-distance runner. Eating large amounts of food just before exercise is not recommended, so you’ll need to learn to take on enough calories and in good quality food whilst leaving some time to start digestion before your run.
Sometimes you’ll need an intense energy boost to keep you going, and you’ll always need to stay hydrated, so Laura recommends wearing a hands-free bottle belt and packing some energy gel sachets such as ‘High 5’ that you can use when you feel your energy levels dropping. Learning the timing of gels, jelly babies and other energy snacks when running – as well as what your body can tolerate – is important to know before race day. You can’t run a marathon on water alone!
Men’s running kit
Looking for the kit you need to get running? We’ve found a few pieces that should get you past the starting blocks:
Women’s running kit
From top left, clockwise:
2XU Perfprmance Visor £11.99 at Sigma Sport
Asics Women’s seamless tank top, £19.99 at Wiggle
Shock Absorber Sports Bra, £23.99 at Wiggle
Hilly anklet socks, £9.99 at Wiggle
Asics Gel Kayano 22 shoes, £89.99 at Wiggle
Adidas Kanoi Run reversible shorts, £25.50 at Wiggle
Women’s athleisure kit:
April 18th 2016 - by @CollectPlus