Train Hard: Run Easy

If you have run a marathon before, you will know what works for you, and how best to train for the London run. For those of you who are running the 26.2 miles for the first time, there are bound to be a few questions about how best to train.


The most important thing to know, is that you must train. Turning up on 28th April with a hope and a prayer is unlikely to give you the same enjoyable experience that you could have with proper training. You will find lots of advice about how to train on various websites, and most of them will give you a training program that lasts between 13 and 17 weeks. My training for the marathon will begin the week commencing 7th January, and by running just 3 times each week, I will be ready to enjoy London.


If you have not done much running before, I would recommend joining your local parkrun on a Saturday morning. It will get you used to running with a crowd and give you the experience of running outside. It is only a 5km run, but it is a good way to get yourself ready for some more serious running. For many people the thought of running a marathon is very exciting, but when the training starts, 26 miles seems like an awfully long way. Somebody once told me ‘Go as far as you can see, and when you get there, you will be able to see further’. To start with, if you can only see 5km, don’t worry about it. Once you have done 5km, you will be able to do 6km, and then you will be able see 10km, and so on.


Some days will be easier than others, and sometimes you will run a mile or so and not want to do any more. That is o.k. It happens to us all, and it is fine to have a few off days. It is also important to stop running if you feel any pain. When you are training, it is easy to pick up muscle strains, and in my opinion, it is better to take a few days off, rather than risk more serious injury.


During the marathon there will be plenty of water on offer, but this is not always the case when training. To make sure I have enough liquid whilst training, I always carry 2 bottles of water if I am running outside. I have also just bought a running belt that has 2 small bottles with it. One of the advantages of training whilst carrying the bottles, is, when I run in London, I will not have any bottles to carry and so the run will be easier. Having said that, I will be carrying a banana and some energy tablets in my belt. When I ran my first marathon, I ended up giving most of my tablets away to other runners who obviously had not done enough training. In London I will carry more than I need, just in case.


Remember that running will burn lots of calories, and you need to make sure you are eating enough to make up for this. During the training I find myself eating lots of bread and pasta, but I still lose weight because my alcohol intake is zero. You will have to eat and drink what you feel comfortable with, but I find that alcohol and running are not a great mix.


Road training will get you used to running in the wind and the rain, because we have no idea what the weather will be like on the day. However, this time around I intend to take a leaf out of the training method followed by Ingrid Kristiansen. After all, she is a past London Marathon winner, and she trained mainly on a treadmill. These days, many gyms are open 24/7 and they can be inexpensive to join. Alternatively, you could have a treadmill at home. Either way, it makes training a little less daunting when the winter weather sets in.


Finally, I would suggest not setting stringent time goals for your first marathon. The first mile will take a lot longer than you think, simply because of the crowds of people all starting off together. My first marathon took me just over 5 hours, and I will probably do the same in London. My goal is not to be overtaken by an apple or a banana. Remember, train hard, run easy, and enjoy.

Written by Andy Harris Cardio Shop Owner