Your guide to running your first Marathon

Running fast, marathon

Have you been inspired by the London Marathon?

Well good news, almost anyone can complete a marathon with the right preparation, so here’s some advice aimed at those looking to get round and hopefully enjoy the experience.

Setting reasonable goals

Don’t think you can prepare for a marathon in 12 weeks, 6-12 months is ideal as it’s a process of ‘adaption’ for the body and shouldn’t be rushed as you could run the risk of injury and illness rather than running the race.

A weekly long run is the core of any training programme, if you are completely new to running it may be sensible to start with a couch to 5k training programme. As you get further into your training you will need to gradually increase the length of your long run up to about 18-20 miles. In the last couple of months before your race try and incorporate 3 runs of this distance. The principal is slow and easy and interspersing your run with walking is absolutely fine.

Leave room for recovery

Recovery is critical, did you know that when you rest during training your body is rebuilding stronger. Many people have an ‘easy week’ every 4th week, cutting the distance by about 30% before resuming a steady build. Hydration is also important, not just when you’re running, but making sure you drink plenty of fluids on a daily basis will lead to you being well hydrated. A large glass of water first thing in the morning and after every run.

Usually, it’s only illness or injury which prevents people getting to the start line or completing a marathon so get good shoes (near the beginning of training to avoid too many blasted marathon blisters), stop at the first sign of a niggle, don’t train if you are ill and look after your feet!

Mix it up

Instead of doing 4 runs a week at 7-8miles long at a similar pace try mixing your runs up. We suggest doing a 13 mile long and easy run, 5 mile recovery run, 7 mile steady and 5 mile hill run. Varying your distance, speed and terrain is helpful, as is mixing in some cycling, swimming, strengthening and stretching.

Take a friend

It’s always more fun running with other people and there are lots of running clubs and groups that welcome people of all ages and abilities. The miles whizz by with some good company and being able to run at ‘conversation’ pace is great.

You can spend a fortune on watches and gadgets but safety should be the priority. Always let someone know where you’re going and how long you expect to be, or if you have a smart phone download an app that lets family and friends see where you are.

Race day

You don’t need much special kit for running, really all you need is loose comfortable clothing, however, materials that keep sweat away from the skin are valuable and it is worth investing in one or two good tops.

If it’s your first marathon pick your event carefully. How easy is it to get there? Will you need accommodation? Will friends and family be able to support you? Do you like a big city event or something more friendly and local?

Finally, on race day, rest well, make sure you’re well hydrated, eat plenty of carbs in the days leading up to the event (but keep it light the night before) and then go out and enjoy it. It’s a fantastic achievement for anyone and something you can always be proud of.

Looking to join a race? There’s still time to win a free entry to any of the races at New Forest Marathon and a 3 months free membership!

Joanne Bailey - Service Manger Health and Leisure


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