Ask any long distance runner the key to completing their first half or full marathon, and they’re likely to come up with some variation of the word ‘persistence’. Gradually clocking up the training miles is as much a psychological challenge as it is a physical one. But for the wellbeing of your body, it’s also important to incorporate elements of crosstraining into your preparation. Repetitive impact can be hard on your joints, so building strength and flexibility will make you more resistant to injury. Plus, challenging your cardiorespiratory system in different ways will make your heart more efficient - so it will be your biggest supporter from start to finish.
We asked Sweaty Betty team members from up and down the UK which classes and activities they trust to equip them with race day confidence.
“Spinning is a great way to play with pace and build up your fitness while giving your knees a break from the concrete surfaces you’ll spend so much time running on,” says Hannah Melville, Sweaty Betty’s Edinburgh boutique assistant. The short, sharp intervals typical of a spin class will also activate your anaerobic energy systems – the ones that provide the fuel for your celebratory sprint finish!
Rhian from Psycle wears Sweaty Betty X Richard Nicoll
“Between long runs, I love bootcamp style classes to squeeze in heart-strengthening HIIT with essential full-body strength,” says Cassie Read from Sweaty Betty’s Bluewater Boutique. While the slow twitch muscles in your legs will get plenty of training on your run days, conditioning exercises will activate your fast twitch muscles responsible for more explosive movements. Whatever your distance of choice, balanced training is always best.
Photo by Sweaty Betty Ambassador and Barry's Bootcamp instructor @anyalahiri
Stretching your muscles regularly is especially important when training for a marathon, when muscle tightness can have knock-on effects on your alignment and impact your stride efficiency. Barre classes are a great way to incorporate dynamic stretching and conditioning. Sweaty Betty Fulham’s boutique manager Ruth Martin says she loves barre for the constant core activation, which she finds keeps her more supported and energised when she runs.
Recent years have seen a rise of yogis using running as an alternative means of meditation. Japanese author Haruki Murakami talks in depth about the spiritual benefits of running in his book What I Talk About When I Talk About Running. And practising mediation separately from running will also help to focus your mind and improve your mental stamina through even the most challenging moments of your marathon running experience. “Meditation calms the mind, increases ability to focus and be in the present moment, and tune into the five senses to help dissipate any negative thoughts,” says Heather Frost, supervisor at Sweaty Betty Marlow.
Photo by @triyogauk
Yin and Bikram Yoga
Sweaty Betty has promoted yoga for runners for years – with our dedicated yoga flow workout by Charlie Morgan helping runners to open and strengthen the areas most prone to injury. #TeamSB loves all kinds of yoga to enhance your training experience. Social media manager Jemma regularly practises Yin Yoga, which gives her the time to stretch deeper into poses throughout a slow and controlled sequence. Bikram is Marlow supervisor Heather’s favourite, with the heated studios helping to make tight muscles more pliable, adding length and facilitating smooth movement.
Pilates training centres around core strengthening, and its recent revolution has seen the introduction of advanced equipment to deepen the intensity of the workout and promote better body awareness. “Core strength improves body alignment and balance, which spread the impact of running more evenly through the body to prevent injury,” says Marlow supervisor Heather. One of the latest additions on the Pilates scene Is MOTR, which tests your balance on a foam roller attached to resistance cables for a powerful strength and stability challenge.
Photo by @bepilates
Head over to Twitter to tell us how your training is going and which workouts you most look forward to. Or join one of Sweaty Betty’s many run clubs starting from boutiques across the UK and New York.