6. Run a marathon (part 1- the training)

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Ready, set, GO!
So, I’m training for my first marathon. Crazy you might think. I agree.

It started one slightly drunken, pre-christmas evening with a slurred suggestion from my friend Ali...

And so, on Boxing Day last year, just as the entries opened, my best running buddy and I signed up for the very first Bristol to Bath marathon. Committing there and then to run from one city all the way to another. And this was the motivator; instead of circling in one place, we'd actually be using nothing but our own two feet to get somewhere.

Enough motivation to sign up that is. The onset of training for this 26.2 mile mission on the other hand (or foot…?), has provoked nothing but panic.

In order to retain control over the panic that that innocent slurred suggestion ensued, I’ve come across a few tactics.

If you're reading this, stricken by the same training-terror predicament, you might just find some of these helpful...

Make your training work for you
  • I’ve completed two half marathons in the past. The last one, two years ago, spoilt running for me. It turned my running into a chore. I was constantly battling to fit in training, all the while not knowing whether I’d done enough.
  • So training for my first marathon would have to be different, it would have to fit into my life, rather than my life fit into the training. Enter the FIRST marathon training plan, which my fellow marathonee, Ali, trawled the internet for.
  • The FIRST plan consists of just three runs a week. Yes just three (plus at least two cross-training sessions a week, meaning I can continue with my gyming and Ali can continue with her coveted Cross Fit). What's more this plan is based on three different types of run per week - sprints, tempo and a long run- thus keeping things interesting.
  • Now, we’re only at the start of our training so cannot advocate the three runs a week approach. But my point is, this plan fits with my life. Find a plan that fits you, and maybe that's having no plan at all and simply continuing to enjoy your running. Because this is the key after all- your running should be enjoyable, not a chore!

My favourite place to train - beautiful Bristol Harbour
Make the most of apps
  • Strava has revolutionised my running. So here comes a few Strava-based tips....
  • Ensure you have the ‘auto-pause’ on (under settings). This pauses your recording whenever you’re stood waiting at traffic lights. I didn’t have this ticked for a long time, needless to say I was pleasantly surprised when it transpired that I wasn't quite as slow as I was led to believe.
  • Connect with your friends, family members, colleagues, anyone who will accept you. It instantly makes running a more sociable sport, it's motivating when you receive 'kudos' and it fuels running /cycling related conversations when you catch up with others going through the same thing. This comes with a warning though- do not feel intimidated when others are running faster or further or more often than you! We all have our own pace, our off days and you've found a plan that fits you remember (something I often have to remind myself when my super speedy fellow marathonee, Mary, records a run!).
  • Strava doesn't stop there- you can also plan routes in advance, helpful when trying to work out how to fit in the mileage on longer runs. Note, to do this you must login online, rather than through the app, just click the 'build a route' button!
  • Last Strava based tip- if you don't already use them, try switching on the audio prompts. Sometimes they're just the motivation you need to keep that pace going!
The results of a tough sprint session
Utilise the power of Google
  • Google maps has become my secret tool when planning sprint sessions which require short distances of specific length. By right clicking on the map and selecting ‘measure distance’ you can click away on the map to measure out a distance in meters. So find a spot you have in mind and get measuring!
  • Use the ‘snipping tool’ which you'll probably find hidden on your laptop somewhere. You can literally snip part of the map on screen to save your routes as an image for future reference.
If only my legs really were this long
Keep your breath bated until 25th October 2015, when I'll let you know if the training paid off and whether I survived my first marathon...

Check out part 2 for an update on training and a few more tips I can't help but dish out as I start to eat, sleep and think marathon! 


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