Spring is almost here - daffodils are popping up, pancakes are being flipped and the sun is starting to shine again. This can only mean one thing, Marathon season is almost upon us!
Whether 2020 is the year of your first 26.2 or your 100th we've got a couple of top tips for making sure that you get to the start line in one piece and hopefully cross the finish in your fastest time yet, as the old saying goes - "Fail to prepare and prepare to fail."
With most marathons still a couple of months away yet, the last thing on your mind right now is probably which shoes you'll be wearing on the day. But the earlier you can start testing out trainers, clothes and running fuel the better. This not only gives you time to figure out what works for you and what doesn't, but it also means that come race day you will have built confidence in your kit.
Be aware though that what might work wonders for one person, won't necessarily do anything for you and might even be downright bad for you. Some people like gels, others prefer bars and the perfect pair of trainers for one person, is likely to leave you hobbling by mile 8.
This doesn't mean you have to spend a fortune on tonnes of gear either, a well fitted pair of trainers, a pair of shorts, a technical t shirt and a few Flapjacks will go a long way and won't cost the earth.
There are thousands and thousands of Marathon training plans out there for you to choose from. With so many to choose from it can be a little overwhelming, the important thing is to find a plan suited for you. Both the level that you are currently at and that you can actually adhere to. It might be the greatest plan in the world but if you can only do half of it because of fitness or time limitations then it's no good to you.
There is more to training for a marathon than just running lots and lots, you need to recover from all the time on your feet too. Ask any seasoned runner and they will tell that allowing your body to recover properly each night is (almost) as important as the training, get plenty of sleep, eat well and move, whether that's stretching, yoga or just going for a little walk. In the beginning this might seem like a little bit of overkill but as the miles start adding up your body will thank you for looking after it.
There is a huge difference between going out for a 26.22 mile run on any given day and running in an organised marathon. The buzz you get from thousands of other runners, not to mention the amazing people cheering from the sideline is unlike anything else on earth. Don't underestimate just how powerful an effect this support can have on you, especially when times get tough (it might be invaluable later on if you hit the wall). However there is a big downside to running in big crowds, the sheer size of the crowds can make running difficult to say the least. All those elbows jostling for position can certainly take some getting used.
The best way to do this is to get out and run a few shorter races in the build up. This will not only build your confidence but also help you develop a race day routine which works for you.