This month, seasoned endurance runner Andy Heyden provides his top tips for running a great marathon.
An ex-pat Brit living in Australia, 'Marathon Andy', as he is known on Instagram, is a champion marathon and long distance runner with a lot of experience and wisdom when it comes to running successful marathons.
He says: "After 28 years of marathon running and too many marathon finishes to count, I still love the challenge of the 42.2km distance
"I’ve helped many friends and friends of friends with their marathon plans and usually share some common advice. Here are some considerations and tips to get you on your way to a marathon finish line.'
1) Prioritise your training into your weekly life. If you’re going to commit to a marathon, you need to commit to the training which means finding time within your life routine, whether morning, lunch or evening, road, trail or treadmill
2) Decide when to start training: Depending on how long/how many years you have been consistently running/training, around 20 weeks should be enough for most people who are regularly doing a few runs each week.
3) Get a training plan. Whether from a book or a coach, a plan helps give you a schedule to stick to, shows how to build up the training and the types of sessions that suit from long runs to recovery runs and hills or intervals for strength and speed. One thing I’ve noticed as I’ve got older is that swapping fast intervals for hill repeats or hilly runs gets and keep me fit but with less niggles and injury risk
4) Build up the long runs: One thing that hasn’t changed is that the weekly long run is still a key to marathon training. This helps build up the fitness and strength needed on race day, plus some confidence too and also should be used to plan and refine your nutrition strategy. Build your long runs up slowly, adding to the length every week or second week. Most beginners aim to get to 30-35 kms 4 weeks out from race day. Try not to skip this key long run session each week. In the early weeks, time on feet is more important than distance so worry less about the kms and pace and it’s fine to walk the last few kms but aim to build up how far or long (in time) you run each week
5) Prioritise diet and sleep. Marathon training can be tiring so on your main weeks of training try to make sleep and eating well a priority. Sleep is key to let your body recover. Think about refuelling within 30 mins of your runs and make the main meal of the day before your long run a run-friendly meal ie plain and carbohydrate rich, not too creamy or spicy !
6) Take care with supplements. There are so many supplements on the market and they are often quite expensive and we often may not need them. You can always get the advice of a nutritionist too. I aim to eat plenty of fruit and veg and only use one supplement – CurraNZ. CurraNZ is an awesome supplement to aid recovery and support your immune system and have worked well for me for years now and the science backs up the marketing claims.
7) make your race commitment ‘public’. Once you have set the amazing goal of running a marathon, tell your friends and family and their support will help keep you going. Signing up to raise money for a charity close to your heart can give additional motivation
8) Find a training buddy. Having someone to run with makes the runs feel easier and pass quicker and helps keep you motivated to get out when you have agreed to meet up with someone. Perhaps join a local running club or start running Park Runs to meet other local runners.
9) Get the right kit. Make sure you have the right clothes and the right shoes. Comfortable moisture-wicking clothes will keep you cool and dry and help prevent chaffing. The right shoes will help prevent injury and are worth investing in. New shoes are often only the price of a couple of visits to the physio !
10) Enjoy it ! It’s supposed to be fun. Enjoy the journey, getting fitter, hitting interim goals, meeting other runners and wearing new kit! Enjoy treating yourself to nice food once or twice a week and be proud of yourself for setting a new challenge.