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Marathon training tips: getting started

posted on Thursday, 21st January 2016 | find under Fitness
Training for a marathon this year? Get inspired by Sarah Russell, Sweaty Betty Tunbridge Wells Ambassador, contributing editor to Running Fitness magazine and founder of Sarah’s Runners. Having run eight marathons, including an ultra-marathon in the Himalayas, this inspiring athlete has compiled her top tips on how to train smart for race day.

marathon training tips

Mix it up

There is a common misconception that when training for a marathon you need to run every day. If this is your first race you only need to run 3-4 times a week and instead add other training methods to your routine. Try cycling, swimming or Pilates to reduce stresses on your joints and increase muscle strength. 

Clever runners walk

This is my secret weapon. The jog then walk method for long runs is a great way to reduce your risk of injury and conserve energy. Try a 1 minute walk every mile or 10 minutes, it’s been proven to work, even for runners achieving times of 3:30. For more information on this I recommend Jeff Galloway’s method. 

Be prepared

Warming up properly is even more important than post-run stretching. A good dynamic warm up is where you activate the muscles and prepare the body, which massively reduces the risk of injury. Prior to every run spend 5-10 minutes performing a mindful series of leg swings, lunges, squats, bum kicks and hamstring curls, before going for a brisk walk for around 5 minutes. 

The right support

When training for a distance race, it is vital that you own a supportive sports bra and running trainers. A quality bra is essential for better posture and correct form, I wear Sweaty Betty’s Ultra Run Bra for maximum comfort and support. It also goes without saying that properly fitted running shoes are crucial, go at least a size up from your regular size to allow space for your toes to spread. Try Sweaty Betty’s sports bra guide and trainer guide to find the best fit for you.

Fuel your training

A healthy balanced diet is really important, so make sure to include plenty of protein for recovery and carbohydrates for fuel. There is nothing worse than trying to run when hungry, so plan and time your meals and snacks to support your training. On a distance run you need around 30g of carbohydrates per hour so experiment with different gels, honey or sweets to find what suits you best. Aim to have a protein shake within 30 minutes of finishing your run to help you recover faster. I love chocolate flavoured protein powder with almond milk for a healthy milkshake. 

Get ready to roll

Okay so it’s going to hurt, but foam rolling your quads and calves and using a massage ball on the glutes is one of the most important things you can do while marathon training. Foam rolling improves your form and keeps injuries at bay, so I recommend having a stretch session a few times a week. Check TPTherapy for tips. 

Don’t focus on the finish line

Instead focus on getting to the starting line. Around 35% of runners who sign up for a marathon never race due to injury, illness or insufficient training. Don’t worry about a goal time, focus on training and let it come together on the day.

Be positive

Develop a ‘growth mindset’ by looking at any difficulties as challenges to overcome. This is a time to be resilient and resourceful, if training doesn’t go to plan, re-think your goals and try something different, for example work on your strength and conditioning instead of going for a run.

Feeling inspired? Get training today and discover Sweaty Betty's run and marathon ranges. Look out for Sarah at the annual Sweaty Betty Marathon Masterclass, sign up to our emails for more information. Find out more about Sarah Russell here
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