Spring might seem like a long way away at the moment, but if you are running a Marathon in March or April you should be putting your ducks in a row before Christmas. You need to be proactive.
Here are 5 areas you should be thinking about now if you want to succeed in 2016;
find a running coach/ training program/ run planner
There are 2 options; find a good off the peg plan, or getting in touch with a running coach to tailor make you one.
Existing training plans can be fine and thousands have used them to good effect. Make sure it's written by a specialist and the principles and rationale behind sessions are clearly defined. This will allow you to adapt if your schedule dictates.
A coach, naturally, will be able to come up with a plan that’s more specific to you, setting targets which take into account your progress. Flexibility is very important, and a coach can adapt in light of inevitable injury and illness, structure training to fit in fluctuating life pressures, as well as respond to your improvements and capabilities, pushing you to achieve your personal goal.
Most importantly a good coach can give you confidence during good and bad times. A missed session or bad race performance can sometimes feel like the end of the world, so it’s great to get the perspective of someone who has been through it all before. I may have made this stat up, but I’m pretty sure it’s true; 0% of all runners complete 100% of their intended training plans!
Establish a routine
The key to Marathon training success is consistency. For your spring marathon, its therefore a good idea to try and establish a running routine in the lead up to Christmas. Try to schedule in runs on days you are most likely to fit them in. If you earmark Sunday as ‘long run day’ for example, you’re much less likely to schedule things in and miss the workout.
Have an MOT.
We spend money on a flash trainers, a fancy watches and new running tech- but we rarely spend time on money on improving our own movement patterns.
Now’s a good time to iron out any injury niggles or health issues you might have. It’s a great time to schedule an appointment with a physio or sports masseur as they will be able to highlight any weaknesses, stiffness or differences in symmetry.
Having someone look at your running technique at this stage is also incredibly advantageous. Seeing how your body moves when running can bring to light any weaknesses or idiosyncrasies that if left unchecked, could result in injury later down the line. If you’re going to start running in a serious way, it’s important to start on the right foot! Correcting poor running habits in the early stages will pay dividends when you come to those heavy mileage weeks!
Runners Strength and Conditioning
Allied to the above, the next few months is a good time to pick up a general strength routine . Strengthening muscles around the hip and core now will be incredibly important when the training volume picks up in February and March. A strong core will help with running efficiency too.
Bring other non-running areas of life in line.
Sleep and diet play a huge role in your running success. Marathon running is punishing and if you don’t allow your body to replenish and recover all good work will be undone. You don’t have to be monastic, but adopting good habits will leave you happier, healthier and more likely to succeed.
Sleep is incredibly important and there are plenty of experts out there offering more coherent advice than me. Turn off your TV’s, phones and laptops a little earlier and keep your sleeping space cool and free from clutter.
Diet can be a difficult one for runners. Frustratingly Marathon training does not give you impunity to eat huge quantities of whatever the hell you want. Carbo loading is a fallacy, just eat a balanced normal diet. Fat and Protein is of equal importance as carbs! Try to think of food as fuel. Always try to put good quality (fresh, and unprocessed) fuel in your tank, particularly post exercise to refuel and repair your body.