Every year, tens of thousands of people take to the starting line in the London Marathon, ready to put their body to the test over the 26.2 mile course for a variety of reasons, from fundraising to personal glory.
If you watched this year’s race and want to get into the running habit, Runner’s World has the following advice on taking up running and preparing for the marathon, giving you a whole year to get ready for the 2018 event.
Welcome to running! Yes, giving yourself a year's time to build up to a marathon distance is good planning and very realistic. Including shorter races along the way as part of your training plan is a wise move too.
As you increase your distance, plan on including a half marathon or two before running the full marathon distance as well. These other races will help give you a better feel for running the full marathon distance.
Be certain that you cross all your "T's" and dot all your "I's" before beginning your training. First, it's always best to check with your GP before beginning any exercise program and get the green light. As you train remember the human body adapts slowly and therefore responds best to small gradual increases in training stress.
Muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, the circulatory system, the cardiovascular system and the respiratory system, all adapt at different rates to training. They need a minimum of six weeks to make adaptations to the stresses placed upon them, so proceeding gradually is very important.
Training periods of greater workload, like mileage increases or speedwork, should be followed by periods of reduced workload, often referred to as a "cut back" week, where mileage is reduced and speedwork less intense.
Besides just logging the miles, there are many other factors to educate yourself on too, like hydration and nutrition. There is so much to learn!
The right gear
Tell them your weekly mileage to date, your goal to run a marathon, the running surfaces you train on and how often you run so they can prescribe and fit you with the best shoe for you.
Running clothing is also important, especially in the summer weather. High tech fabrics that help wick sweat and dry quickly make running more comfortable. They also reduce chafing and blisters, and help to keep you cooler. Your local running store may also be of help with training information, nutrition advice and details of races in your area.
Top ten tips
Here are some other training tips that will help you towards your goal.
1/ Keep a training log. Write down your daily mileage, run times, race distance and times, and how you feel. It's hard to remember what you did later, so write it down immediately.
2/ Increase weekly mileage by ten per cent. This allows for a gradual increase in mileage and reduces the risk of injury.
3/ Include a "cut back" week every third or fourth week of training. "Cut back" means reduce your mileage and use it as an easy week.
4/ Run 3 or 4 days a week. Include one long run, two shorter runs for speed and strength, and an optional easy recovery run day. For speed, focus on your run pace one day a week by running slightly faster in short increments of time or distance. For strength, include some hills one run each week. Long runs are runs that increase your distance. Run these at a slow, comfortable pace, about 1 or 2 minutes per mile slower than your expected goal pace.
5/ Always alternate a hard day, with an easy day, or a day off.
6/ Always allow at least one day a week completely off for rest and recovery. Two days a week is OK, too!
7/ Monitor your resting heart rate. Take your resting pulse each morning before arising. Keep track of it in your training log. After several readings, you will have a baseline number. As our fitness improves, our resting pulse decreases. If you see your resting heart rate spike up by 10% or more above your normal resting pulse, take it easy that day. This can be a sign of fatigue, lack of recovery between workouts, or an illness coming on and it is best to take the day off, sleep in, or change a hard workout to a very easy one, until your resting heart rate returns to normal.
8/ Consider cross-training one or two days a week to increase your aerobic conditioning without additional running. Swimming, cycling and rowing are good options. Keep cross-training activities to 45 minutes 1 or 2 times a week, and do them at a very moderate intensity level.
10/ Always listen to your body. If you are tired, rest. If a workout feels hard, it is hard.
Making a change
It is a significant journey and commitment. Having support from family or friends is very helpful too, so start recruiting your support team now! Maybe even one or two of them will decide to join you!
Enjoy the training process and celebrate all of your accomplishments along the way. Happy running!
Runner’s World had a wide range of hints, tips, features and advice for runners of all abilities, from beginners to season marathon runners. To find out more, visit www.runnersworld.co.uk.