Marathon Training Tips from our Top UK Trainer

The 32nd London Marathon has just taken place and all entrants will have followed a training programme to ensure they are prepared to run the arduous 26 miles. We ask renowned personal trainer, Dan Roberts, for his tips on how to train for a marathon.

It seems unbelievable now but running was seen as a fad 30 years ago. Our bodies are designed to run. Running your first marathon is one of the most fulfilling things you’ll ever do. You will be amazed what the body can do with the combination of adrenalin and motivation! Having said that, running for 26miles is not much fun when you feel you are battling against your body. The more physically prepared you are, the more your mind will feel in harmony with your muscles, your joints and the actual road.

There is no perfect way to train for your first marathon as everyone has unique physicality and personality. But, having said this, there are some principles that are key to marathon success.

1) Use a training plan. As you are aware, training is essential and eats up a lot of time so you need to factor in the time to prepare for your marathon event. It is important for injury prevention and for your own sanity that you ease yourself into your training programme and gradually build up the distance. The 10% rule states you should never run for longer than 10% more than your last run.

2) Run on real roads not a treadmill. I know a number of people who have made the mistake of training purely on a treadmill which did not prepare them adequately for running for their marathon event. Roads have turns, hills, people traffic and aren’t so bouncy on the feet so your body needs to adjust to these conditions.

3) Don’t train the whole 26.2. Personally when I coach new runners to run their first marathon, I don’t get them running past 22 miles in preparation. If you’re not used to running then reducing the chance of an over-training injury (such as tendonitis) is of highest importance. Once you can run up to 22 miles without an issue you can definitely run a marathon. Also, once you reach the last 4 miles you will be spurred on to complete the event by the motivating crowds and the injection of adrenalin you’ll get knowing you’re approaching the end of the race.

4) Rest. Your muscles and tendons are taking a bit of a battering with all this road work training. Your body recovers when at rest so I advise going to bed 30mins earlier every evening starting the month before the big day.

5) Reduce the chance of injuries. I would recommend seeing a physio or experienced trainer as a one- off session and have them check your gait, your core and running mechanics. The majority of injuries are caused from having slight muscular imbalances and tightness in certain areas of the body – this reinforces bad form, which step by step, mile by mile puts increasing strain on certain areas thus causing/ triggering an injury.

6) Psychology of success. The best thing you can do is enjoy training and enjoy the day. It’s one of those things you’re not going to do that often… Yes it will hurt, but you’ll be okay. Run slowly at the start – don’t get carried away with the moment! Keep your eyes open and listen to music (heaven forbid your battery runs out) or think about something peaceful. Get lost in your thoughts. I see distance running as a moving meditation.

What to eat before and during a marathon

You need to eat easily absorbed carbohydrates when you wake up, such as a bowl of oats, as these are digested quickly and will provide sustained energy release. Drink lots of water. After 10 miles of running your body will have depleted its glucose stores so make sure you have some sugar or glucose gels with you as they are needed for your muscles and brain to function optimally – this is the one time when eating a few fizzy cola bottles every 30 minutes is recommended!

Apple & Blackberry Porridge taken from The Pure Package: The DIET for FOOD LOVERS

Nutrition has an important part to play in keeping athletes healthy and preventing fatigue and illness associated with poor recovery and under-fuelling. It is essential to eat regular and balanced meals before and after your training to enable your body to recover and function optimally. If you need help with your diet we’re always here to support you with one our programmes.