IF you’re one of the runners training for the Manchester Marathon, remember that very few of you will be professional athletes. Feeling nervous? You’re not alone. Anyone can run a marathon; there is no optimum age or physique. You just need to be prepared to put one foot in front of the other up to six hours and that takes training. Neilon Pitamber, personal trainer, shares his top tips:
Vary your training
Many of us spend most of our lives sitting down, which means we under-use our hamstrings and glutes. Try doing some free-weight training that engages your rear kinetic chain, strengthens your core and improves your posture. Other activities like swimming, cycling and yoga can also be a great complement to your marathon training schedule.
Connect with the runners, if you can’t hold a conservation you’re running too fast.
Make sure you have the right running shoes
Obvious but essential. Brett Bannister, MD of sportsshoes.com said: "Your trainers may look fine but may not suit your running gait. Make sure you wear the right shoes for your biomechanics as you don’t want to ruin your chances by causing knee, shin or ankle splints in the last few crucial weeks."
You need to understand your personal pronation in order to choose the right running shoes, if you’re unsure of how to do this check out this simple ‘choosing the right running shoes’ video. Also, bear in mind that traditional supported running shoes need to be worn in for at least a month before a big race.
Consistency is king
As you probably know by now, the important thing is to get out there and run. It’s better to have an unsatisfactory run than not do one at all; it’s the tough runs that make the easy ones good.
Don’t find excuses not to run:
If it’s raining – let the rain cool you down.
If it’s hot – enjoy the feel of the sun on your skin.
If it’s hilly – remember what goes up also comes down.
If you have a bit of a cold/hangover – take the opportunity to sweat it out.
Haruki Murakami, author and avid long distance runner, said: “Of course there are days when I feel lethargic and I don’t want to run” but to overcome this he imagines himself in a long boring meeting or commuting on a packed train and asks himself – what would you rather do?
No one does every single run on their training schedule. If you do miss a few runs, don’t over-train, simply ease yourself back into your programme and get back up to speed.
The BIG day
As the day of your marathon draws close you will be tapering your efforts and resting-up to conserve your energy. Eat a good carb-heavy meal (avoid spicy food!) and get an early night. If you don’t sleep very well, don’t worry, it’s the adrenalin kicking in and it will help you face the challenge.
In the morning:
- Get up early to have a light digestible meal and drink lots of water, relieve yourself as much as possible before the race as its better to run on an empty stomach
- Don’t do anything new i.e. wear clothes you’re not used to or ingest any new substances; experiment with carbohydrate supplements during training so you know what works
- Rub Vaseline over the places that may chafe, you don’t want to be distracted by bleeding nipples.
- Make sure you have reliable transport to the starting point and give yourself enough time to get there.
- Don’t do static stretches before you run, it will make your muscles weaker and joints less stable. Instead do some limbering - knee raises, star jumps, jog on the spo.
- Arrive in a t-shirt you can discard as it will be colder in the morning
- Don’t start in the wrong gear, use a pacemaker based on your realistic finishing time.
- At some point something will start hurting but part of the challenge is to deal with this, remember: Pain is inevitable but suffering is optional.
The Human Race: faith, hope and charity
Finally, make sure you enjoy the marathon. When you get to the race stage you have already done the hard bit. Think of the reward that will come with finishing.
- Break down the run into surmountable chunks and keep visualising these as you go.
- Connect with the spectators - strategically place your friends and family along the way.
- Wear your name or your charity logo on your vest and people will cheer you along.
- Connect with the runners, if you can’t hold a conservation you’re running too fast.
- Keep your head up.
- Take in the scenery, look at the horizon.
- Have a secret race with someone at your pace.
- Think of the huge amounts of money being raised for charity and be inspired by the effort and dedication demonstrated by every other person who is running with you.