With New Year a distant memory, health and fitness resolutions close to faltering, and running season round the corner, many of us are facing the daunting prospect of signing up for a challenge - and the training runs which follow!
Our Head of Community Fundraising, Lucy, has run four marathons and is currently training for an 80K Ultra Marathon... so who better to impart some wisdom on what to do (and what not to do!)
Running a marathon is a fantastic way to challenge yourself physically and possibly raise money for the Hospice. We love supporting all our amazing fundraisers, so if you’re ever feeling low on training motivation or not sure how to hit that fundraising target do not hesitate to give us a call!
Here are a few of my top tips:
- Make a plan. Having a training plan to follow is a huge help to keep you going and keep your training on track. There are lots of free plans available on the internet, Runners World is a good place to start.
- Be realistic. If you have a full time job and family commitments suddenly fitting in training for a marathon can seem daunting or even impossible. Choose a plan that suits you, if running 3 times a week is all you can manage than that’s fine. You will still achieve your goal and enjoy doing it!
- Ease in gently. Getting a marathon place is hugely exciting, especially for the London Marathon! But don’t get carried away and suddenly start running everyday! Build your running up slowly, and walking is still training too – it’s all good time on your feet.
- Quality over quantity. You don’t need to run everyday to train for a marathon. Far from it. A good training plan will break your training down into 3 key sessions each week; intervals/speed work, hills and a long run. Speed work and hills are essential ways to improve your running economy. Although these sessions will feel tough, trust me you’ll reap the rewards when it comes to your long runs!
- Get the right gear. A decent pair of running shoes that are suited for your feet and running style is very important to keep you injury free. A good pair of wicking running leggings and top will keep the sweat away from your body helping you to remain comfortable especially when the mileage increases. Treating yourself to a new top or some Bluetooth headphones during your training will help keep you motivated too!
- Be flexible. Whilst it’s important to commit to your training plan, don’t beat yourself up if you’re really not feeling well. Listen to your body and make a realistic plan to fit the session in another day.
- Cross train. Swimming, cycling and weight-lifting are all great ways to help condition the body to running. Swimming and cycling are good cardio sessions which place less strain on the muscles used for running, whilst weights can help with strength. If the thought of running 3 times a week is getting overwhelming, try swapping one of your mid-week sessions for a cross training one instead. Variety is the spice of life!
We live in a beautiful part of the world and it makes training that little bit easier! This is one of my favourite routes, starting in the heart of the Ashridge Estate, before dropping down towards Ivinghoe and back near Aldbury.
- Fuel your body. Hydration is key, any session over an hour will require your body to rehydrate and consume some energy. Though your individual body, time of day and weather will all effect this. Practise fuelling your body on the run with gels, sweets and water or energy drinks. If you know a race gives out a certain kind of refreshment then practise with that beforehand or take your own on the day and avoid the aid stations. For example the London Marathon gives out Lucozade sport, so try it beforehand.
- Don’t do anything new on race day! Make sure you have practised in all your kit; new trainers (even the same make and model) can rub, clothing can chaff. You’ll be feeling nervous and excited on race day so make sure you have practised the whole routine, from getting up at roughly the same time to run as the start time of your race to what you will eat and how you will get there. Practise with the breakfast you will need to eat beforehand and how long you need to visit the toilet etc!
- The race is the celebration, not the test. Go out slow and enjoy the experience, you have put a lot of work into getting here, so don’t over do it in the early stages – no matter how great you’re feeling! It is always better to be able to do a sprint finish then crawling at the end!
Thank you so much if you do choose to support The Hospice of St Francis with your amazing running challenge! We are so grateful for your support. We love to hear how you are getting on so do not hesitate to contact us for any more tips or advice!
firstname.lastname@example.org / 01442 869555
Check out the Hospice's Running Events