The roads are full of dedicated runners in high vis and head torches, the UK is experiencing a shortage of spinach (yes, that’s really happening!), and there’s a bake sale on every corner…it must be marathon season!
This year, I finally landed myself a place running for a charity that’s close to my heart - Sue Ryder.
As a bit of a fitness freak already, I didn’t think twice about applying, but now it’s less than 15 weeks away and I’m still recovering from the Christmas/New Year slump, reality is sinking in! It’s not just the physical demand but, mentally, I’m struggling to prepare myself for the distance. 26.2 miles! At my current pace that’s about 4.5 hours of running! My stomach’s in knots as I write this…
But as marathon newbie, I’m still tainted with the naïve innocence of a “it can’t be that bad” attitude. I mean, people go back and do it again, don’t they?
(I suspect I’ll feel differently on the 18th mile….)
Anyway, I’ve become a bit of a marathon geek as of late, reading up on everything and anything I can get my hands on. A marathon diary, a marathon journal, a Pinterest board… you name it, I’ve got it. And I feel it’s only fair I share some of this new-found knowledge!
Working full time, I’ve had to really prioritise my training. I take a non-negotiable approach. My friends, family and boyfriend know that my long runs happen on a Sunday and a Thursday; rest days are Wednesday and Fridays. It sounds selfish but once you have that discipline instilled, it’s so much easier to stick to your schedule. A few little slips here and there are inevitable, and it’s important to have a bit of flexibility (you can’t expect your mum to cancel her birthday because it collides with your long run…), so if you’ve got a big event on a Saturday night, shift your schedule a bit that week and do your long run on Saturday morning rather than Sunday.
Something else I’ve learnt from my fellow runners is to mix up your training by implementing some hill sprints and interval training. Run after run after run can take its toll on your body. Interval training and hill sprints will build up the strength in your legs, making those long runs feel so much easier.
I tend to do my running in the evenings after work. I don’t actually mind a morning workout, but I much prefer having the time to warm up/cool down properly, and enjoy a nice warm bubble bath after a run. One thing I can’t face afterwards though, is cooking…
I’ve taken to preparing large portions of nice and stodgy, marathon friendly food, that I can either throw in the oven whilst I’m out running, or quickly heat up in the microwave after to feed those hungry muscles. Here are some of my go tos:
Lean steak mince, loads of veg, and lots of cheese! Cook up a big batch and freeze your portions and you have all the nutrition you need after a long, hard run.
Cheap, easy, nutritious carbs. Load up with tuna mayo, baked beans or Mexican chilli. These can be popped into the oven before a run. Rub a little olive oil and salt and pepper on before for an extra crispy skin. A lovely warming meal to come home to.
Pasta, of all kinds!
Fresh, egg pasta is a favourite of mine as it takes absolutely no time at all to cook. Just boil up in 5 mins! Although, I have started preparing a batch of either turkey meatball, or sausage pasta on a Sunday, which I can portion and heat up quickly when I get in from a run. This can be enjoyed cold too!
On the day
I read somewhere that Vaseline will be your best friend on the day. Rub Vaseline on any part of your body that touches another part. You’ll thank me later, I promise!
You should actually start drinking these about 2 -3 days before marathon day, to ensure your electrolyte stores are well topped up!
Don’t overdo it! There’s nothing worse than running on a full stomach. Eat what has worked for you in the past, and remember, overeating is just as bad as undereating.
Wear the trainers you have been wearing to train in (or completed at least 3-4 long runs in). Don’t think it’s a good idea to save a new pair for the day. You never know how your feet will react and the last thing you need is to contend with nasty blisters!