As we move closer to the Dublin Marathon the long runs get longer and we can often get overwhelmed by the challenge of the marathon. Following a few simple steps can take the fear and uncertainty out of your training and help you train smarter.
Follow a plan: Hopefully you have found a training plan which suits your lifestyle, your fitness level and your marathon goal. Having the structure of a plan allows you to keep control of your training and reduce anxiety by building your confidence as you tick off each run on the training plan. If you are not following a plan, get one now. There are plenty online to download or speak to a coach about getting a personalised plan to suit your lifestyle and fitness level.
One week at a time: Some of the longer training runs in your training plan will seem impossible right now. It is important to remember that you will be a different runner by the time you set out to do these longer September runs. Don’t overwhelm yourself with that detail right now. Trust your training plan and focus on getting this week’s training completed successfully. When the time comes for the longer runs you will be well able.
Be practical: Treat every long run like a trial run for the marathon. Try to run your long runs in the morning at the same time as the marathon will take place. This allows you to experiment with food and hydration, working out what breakfast suits your body and how long you will need to eat before you start running. Aim to wear the same clothing as you plan on wearing on race day so you know what is comfortable and will not chaff or irritate you over the distance. Experiment this month with various drinks and food on the run in order to work out what fuel suits you best.
Pace your long runs: Pacing is key. Run your weekly long run at a pace that is at least 1 minute per kilometre slower than your normal 10k pace. This may feel quite comfortable, but it’s important to remember that the goal for these long runs is to train your body to spend longer time on your feet and build endurance. Run these long runs at a pace where you can breathe, talk and relax. You will gain nothing by running these runs fast other than tire yourself out for the following week’s training.
Build mileage gradually: Be careful not to increase the mileage too quickly. Add one mile per week on average to your long run. You will reduce the risk of injury and give the body time to adapt gradually to the endurance training. If you miss a few long runs, be sensible with how you jump back into the schedule. Don’t run a distance just because someone else you know is running that distance at the weekend.
Ignore all distractions: Once you tell friends and family you are running the marathon, everyone will give your titbits of advice even if they don’t run themselves. Remember to trust your training plan. Don’t change it over the summer based on what another runner or non-runner might tell you. Combining two plans together is a fast track to injury and overtraining. There are lots of subtle differences in training plans. Don’t try and do everything, pick one plan and stick to it. I believe a training plan of 4-5 days per week is sufficient for any firsttime marathoner with 1 long run each week.
Track your Runs: As tedious as it may sound, write down the details of each of your completed runs, including details of how it felt, where you went and anything you learnt. Very soon what you consider to be a long run now will be just a short run to you. Yes, there will be days when you don’t feel like going for a run; there will be days where you make excuses, and there will be days when you have a bad run and consider opting out of the marathon. Write it all down. You learn something from every run. It will be hugely motivating later in the autumn to look back over your progress.
Make the most of these long runs. They will be over all too soon and be just a series of memories in your legs and in your training log. Treat each one with the respect it deserves.
Best of luck with all your training. To sign up to Temple Street’s Dublin Marathon team please sign up here or contact Ciara at firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
Mary Jennings is founder of ForgetTheGym.ie and coaches runners of all levels to enjoy running and stay motivated with running classes, online coaching, holidays and workshops. Mary is a Chirunning Instructor delivering workshops on Injury Free Running technique in Dublin. To get more information on her training tips please feel free to contact me at mary@ForgetTheGym.ie