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Born to Run: a few marathon training tips

1. The long run

This is a crucial part of marathon training; you need to get your body used to time on your feet. It’s useful if you can carry out a weekly long run of 18 to 21 miles.

It’s important to finish your last long run at least 2 weeks before race day to enable a proper taper down (the gradual reduction in training in the lead-up to a race).

2. Step up the pace

Make sure you do some sessions faster than your race pace – it will allow you to find the race pace easier.

You could do this with an interval session – something like 10 x 1 km with 90 seconds recovery between each km, or 5 x 1 miles with two and a half minutes recovery time in-between.

Another way is a fartlek or speed play. This involves sustained efforts of different lengths, mixed with easy running. You can use landmarks to help with your motivation. A good length for a fartlek is 40 minutes.

Tempo or threshold running is when you run for 20 or 30 minutes at a good pace, faster than your race pace, but not flat out.

3. Core stability and gentle conditioning

This can help with promoting good running form and correct biomechanical deficiencies.

For marathon running it is not necessary to be doing heavy lifts in the gym. Exercises that use your own body weight or use light dumbbells are usually more advisable. Good choices are exercises such as one legged squats, lunges and exercises that promote a strong core.

4. Warm up and cool down

You must have a good warm up and cool down of at least 10 to 15 minutes, with some gentle stretching to prevent injury before every run.

It can be useful to carry out some strides after some of your easy runs as this can help to maintain a bit of speed in the legs and give you the opportunity to practise your running form. These can be of around 80 metres with a walk back recovery; they should be brisk but not a full-out sprint. Around five strides would be a good amount.

5. Prepare your body

Drinking lots of of fluids during your training runs will prepare your body for dealing with digesting fluids whilst moving. It will also help to avoid digestive problems during the marathon.

Put your pre-race nutrition plan into practise during training so that you know your stomach will not get upset when it comes to race day.

6. Avoiding injury

It’s very important to have easy days and rest days between your hard running days to avoid problems arising.

Try to do the majority of your mileage on softer surfaces, such as trails. However it is useful to do some on the road to adapt to what you’ll have to endure on race day.

If possible, have a regular massage to help identify areas of tightness before a full-blown injury occurs.

If you have an injury niggle, don’t be afraid to carry out some cross training to keep up your aerobic fitness. Good choices are aqua jogging and cycling.

I’ll post some pre-race tips soon.

Born to Run? Find out how you can get involved.

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