If you’re training for a Spring marathon then you’re probably approaching the half way point of your training plan. Your muscles are fatigued, you feel physically exhausted and you may be wondering how you will ever make it to race day. Whether you are a first time marathoner or a seasoned expert, here are 10 of the best marathon training tips to ensure you stay on track, remain uninjured and arrive on the start line feeling fresh and raring to race!
1.USE A FOAM ROLLER
If you don’t already own one, invest now! This is almost as important as a well fitting pair of trainers. Get yourself into a routine of regularly rolling your legs, focusing on areas which feel tight or sore. Muscle pain can be reduced and injuries prevented. Calves, glutes, hamstrings and quads are all good muscle groups to target.
2. VALUE YOUR SLEEP
Do not under estimate how valuable a good night’s sleep is. This is when your body repairs itself from all your hard training. Someone training for a marathon requires more sleep than someone who isn’t – so make sure you invest in some early nights!
3. MAKE SURE YOU FUEL PROPERLY
Your nutrition strategy before, during and after training is really important to ensure you get the most out of each session and to aid recovery. Ensure you are eating a healthy diet and increase your carbohydrates where necessary in preparation for longer runs.
Post workout nutrition aids muscle repair and refuels glycogen stores. Incorporate a good mix of carbohydrate and protein, preferably within an hour of finishing your workout.
If you intend on training for more than 90 minutes make sure you have some sort of fuel source whilst running or you will hit that dreaded wall.
4. INCORPORATE CROSS TRAINING INTO YOUR SCHEDULE
Cross training is great for variety and gives your legs a rest from pounding the pavements. One cross training session a week is ideal. Pilates or yoga promote proper stretching and help with flexibility. Cycling or swimming are also great non-impact alternatives to running.
5. WEAR THE CORRECT TRAINERS
Wearing the correct trainers is vital, not only for comfort but also for reducing the risk of injury. If you haven’t done so already, get your gait analysed at a recognised running shop and invest in a well fitting pair of trainers that suit your running style. Make sure you do this early enough into your training plan so you are not wearing new trainers for the marathon!
6. IF SOMETHING HURTS – STOP!
If something doesn’t feel right don’t feel guilty about missing a few runs. It is much better to have a few additional rest days then battling on and ending up with a full blown injury. Missing a week from your plan won’t make a huge difference and minor aches and pains tend to sort themselves out if you act quickly.
7. STRENGTHEN YOUR CORE AND GLUTES
Core and glute strength are key to correct running form and posture. Most physio’s will tell you that the majority of running injuries stem from having weak glutes. Adding strengthening exercises to your routine (you can build this into your cross training) will improve your technique and help reduce the risk of injury.
8. DON’T INCREASE YOUR DISTANCE TOO QUICKLY
Don’t be tempted to up the distances of your long runs too quickly as this increases the risk of injury. Increasing the distance of your weekly long run every fortnight (and doing a slightly shorter run “long run” around 10 miles in the weeks inbetween) is a good way to avoid this.
9. CONSIDER A SPORTS MASSAGE
A sports massage helps to prevent injury, reduce pain and shorten recovery time. They may not be cheap, but they are generally cheaper than physio and if they reduce the risk of injury they will save you money in the long run! Warning: they can leave you feeling a little sore, but 24-48 hours later your legs will feel amazing!
10. TAPER CORRECTLY
Tapering at the end of your training programme (reducing your mileage significantly in the final three weeks before the race) is vital to make sure you run the best race you possibly can. This is the time for your muscles to repair any damage and for your body to absorb all the previous months of hard preparation. Don’t fret if you feel sluggish and lazy from the reduced mileage– this is normal! The most important thing is that you are fighting fit for the 26.2 miles that lie ahead.
Make sure you look after yourself in the run up to your marathon. Prepare well, fuel yourself properly, rest well and you will smash your marathon goal – whether that is completing the course or setting a new personal best. Good luck!
If you have any other top tips to offer, please leave a comment. I would love to hear them!