Our Bear’s have a wealth of experience in Marathons and we asked them what are their top tips for a first time marathon runner.
“Build up the mileage gradually and don’t neglect rest days. Lots of runners get injured through increasing mileage too quickly and feeling they must run every day”
When you first enter a marathon it’s SUPER exciting! And naturally, the first thing you want to do is to throw yourself into your training. However, if you’re not used to the distance, you need to give your body its best shot at remaining injury-free by building up gradually. Some of the most common injuries such as shin splints are caused by people rushing into things too soon. We’d highly recommend getting a training programme as they are great guides to keep you on track!
“Be clear on your objective for the race- just to finish or a specific time, tailor training accordingly
Also race strategy – pace control is essential IMHO!!”
It’s really important to set yourself a goal, no matter how big or small. As Geoff said, it can be time-based or it might be to raise money for a certain charity. There are plenty of micro-achievements to keep you motivated and flying along!
Pace control is effectively monitoring yourself to make sure you don’t burn out too soon, in the first half you can be feeling superb but you need to keep some energy in the tank for the second half. You can practice this in training and it’s super helpful if you’ve got a good running watch to help you keep track of your splits. There’s also pacers usually with flags on their backs who you can stick to as they’re the ultimate experts at pace control!
“Replicate race day before the event so wear the clothes you’ll be in, eat the nutrition you’ll use and try to match the topography and conditions of the course you’re running”
Superb advice from Rik here. When we hear of people using new trainers for race day it makes us Bears squirm with worry. It’s so important to train and practice in the right shoes. Make sure your new shoes are worn in and comfortable so you can anticipate any rubbing. If you’re planning to race in carbon make sure you’ve practised some mileage in them to ensure no irritation or injury.
Make sure to use the same nutrition on race day as you have been in training – the last thing you want on race day is tummy troubles. We love the OTE gels as they’re soft on the stomach!
Hills or flat? If you’ve got a trail or hilly marathon you need to make sure you’re training in those conditions. If you’ve never really run on hills before and have a hilly marathon planned, as well as building up the mileage you need to build up the hills slowly. Again, when people change from relatively flat runs to suddenly hitting the hills hard, shin splints often make an appearance. So take it steady and build up.
“Break the race down into process goals, it makes the distance feel more achievable. Focus on the process of ticking off each goal throughout the race and the outcome will take care of itself. I like to break the race down into 5k segments. The biggest one is to remember to enjoy the experience!”
Jonny has ‘some’ experience in marathon running… 😉 He’s pointed out how important the mental game is. You need to be able to break it down into achievable goals and you can celebrate when you hit them. It’ll keep you moving and stop you from thinking about how long you’ve got left!
Enjoying a marathon seems like an ironic statement but you seriously can! If you love support choose a city marathon where crowds will motivate you, or if you love solitary scenery maybe a quiet one out in the sticks is the way forward.
“Don’t start too quickly, a marathon only really starts after around 16 miles. Start too fast and you’ll pay for it at the business end”
This links back to pace control. You obviously want to push yourself to your best, but always be conscious and realistic with yourself as you don’t want to burn out! It’s easy to get carried away in the moment, and by all means, enjoy it but always be conscious of the long game.
“Even if you’re not running for charity, have your name printed clearly on your vest. When your flagging, it really helps to hear encouragement from the spectators”.
Absolutely awesome advice. Often we’ll have organised for family and friends to come and watch, but it’s likely you’ll only see them once or twice during the race due to logistics. So to keep you moving and grooving spectators will cheer your name when you’re feeling a little bit low.
“Find out what gels/drinks the organisers are giving out & if they suit you”.
Nipple protectors are a bloke’s best friend when running a marathon and training for one. Running a marathon is uncomfortable enough without sore Nips! When you’re doing your long training runs work out your sore points too and make sure you get some great anti-chafing cream such as Slipstream.
“Get everything ready the night before so you can literally roll out of bed and be ready to go. The less to think about the better. It will help to massively reduce stress and gives time for more sleep (if you can!) the night before”.
It’s crucial to have a good admin! Making sure you’re good to go and you have planned everything down to your safety pins makes Marathon Morning’s much easier. Give yourself plenty of time so if buses get cancelled, trains get delayed or there’s bad traffic you’ve still got time to spare. Plan for afterwards too, there may be some standing around so think about post-race fuel and layers.
“Think about what you’re eating and drinking in the days running up to and the night before your race. Try and take something for breakfast that you really love as it can be tricky to eat when you’re nervous”
So important! Diet is important for training too as eating better makes running easier. In the morning, try and get up early enough to allow your food to go down and provide the boost you need. A good one if you’re travelling is the ready-made porridge pots where you can just pop water in if you’re staying in a hotel. Don’t drink too much alcohol the night before too as this will affect performance too. Carb loading is key too, pasta is the well-known favourite but there are a lot of alternatives out there.
If you have any questions or would like more tips drop us a call, email or message as the Bears are always happy to lend a paw!