Top Tips

I was running last night with a lady entered to run in London 2013. It will be Helen’s first marathon and she was interested to hear if I had any tips. I mentioned a few things which came to mind but it got me thinking and I decided to see what advice I could come up with for first time long distance runners. I am sure there are more, but here are my Top Ten Tips:

1. Start training in plenty of time. Assuming you are already doing some running you can work on the following. For a marathon allow 16 weeks from the start to finish of your training programme. For a half marathon you can probably do it in 8. If you are starting from scratch, add on longer

2. Find a schedule that suits you. There are a lot of different race schedules available and you should find something in either a running magazine or online for example Runners World. Don’t worry if you can’t do exactly what the schedule says. Just adapt it to fit with your life.

3. Plan in some races. It really helps to get into the swing of racing so that you are both physically and mentally prepared on Marathon Day. Enter a 10k and a Half Marathon. Consider finding something longer (for example the Spitfire 20 in March).

4. Find a training partner or group to run with. It makes a massive difference to your motivation if you know you are meeting someone on a cold night in January. Otherwise you could be tempted to stay in the warm …

5. Don’t push too hard too early. A lot of injuries occur because runners think they are improving quickly and push on too hard. The general rule is dont increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week.

6. Don’t run hard sessions back to back. For example, if you do a speed session on Tuesday, don’t do a long run on Wednesday.

7. Mix it up, keep it fresh. Most schedules will do this, but look at alternating Long runs with speed sessions, hills and mid distance mid pace runs.

8. If you get injured, see a good sports physio. If you are a member of a running club they will have links but you should track one down through running shops, online, running magazines etc. They can usually get you back together and on track quicker than you would think. If you can’t afford it look for advice online or in print.

9. Don’t skip sessions too often! If you are on a schedule to run 4/5 times a week, missing the occasional run is not too important as you are doing enough. But miss a couple in a row and then duck out of the long run on Sunday, before you know it you are no longer running regularly and will probably end up deciding not to do the race.

10. Finally, most important enjoy your running! It will hurt at times and you won’t feel like going out, but the runners high when the endorphins kick in more than compensates. And whatever state you finish in and whatever your time you will feel great when you complete your first marathon and become a “Marathon runner”.

If you are looking for a Half Marathon as part of your spring marathon training, or want to train for a Half as the first step in distance running, have a look at the Richmond 13.1 HM, Sunday 31st March 2013 at Richmond upon Thames. (


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