As we move into spring, you may have noticed that the amount of runners taking to the streets has definitely increased. It might be partly due to the remarkably decent weather, the fact it’s the start of marathon training season or it may be that some enthusiasts are still committed to those (long forgotten by most of us) New Year resolutions.
Well, I’m one of those pavement pounders and I fall into the second category – running in preparation for a 26.2-miler. Yes, April will see me take on the London marathon once again and I can’t wait! Because I’ve been on this journey a few times before, I do get asked a lot about the training regime and one of the most common queries is: ‘How do you run continuously for such a long time?’ So this week, I’m going to share myadvice.
When I first started running longer distances in my early twenties, I could barely go for 10 minutes without having to catch my breath. However now, thanks to practice and time, I can run a full marathon without stopping once. So, how can you do it? Bear in mind that it really does take time for your body to adapt to running such a long distance, which is exactly why a decent marathon training plan is usually about four or five months. Whether you’re gearing up for a big race, or embarking on your very first year of pavement-pounding and focusing just on making it round a 5k course without stopping, these tips should help.
1. First things first, the correct footwear is key to avoid injury and to ensure as comfortable a run as possible.
2. Next up, try running with a friend. This is a great way to take your mind off the fact that you are actually running. Stay at the pace of the slowest person and have a good catch up! I used to do long runs with my friend and TV presenter Ben Shephard and chat the entire way. In fact, there were a couple of times we got so side-tracked that we ran a lot further than planned. One day we went for 22 miles instead of 15!
3. This brings me to my next tip – plan your route. That way you know how far you’ve run and how long you have to go. Persuading yourself that you’re nearly there can keep you going!
4. A great playlist does wonders and there are some tunes which I love to listen to when running. Mr Brightside by The Killers is one of my favourites – it has a great uptempo beat. Of course there are also brilliant playlists on Apple Music or Spotify.
5. Before heading out make sure you’ve fuelled your body – whether that’s with a slice of toast, a banana or a dry bagel (what I opt for).
6. When you really are desperate to stop you need something to take your mind off jogging and this is when I count. I know it sounds daft but it really helps. One of my running buddies, Sophie Raworth, always laughs at me because she knows I’m counting. She’ll run alongside me and ask what number I’m up to. I count every right step and when I get to 500, I start again. It sounds absolutely ridiculous but don’t mock it till you’ve tried it! I ran the entire London Marathon counting every right pace the year I crossed the finish line in three and a half hours so it works for me!
7. Make plans for after your run. It’s hugely motivational having a deadline. After one marathon I had to go to the Baftas, so completing it in more than four hours wasn’t even an option. Thankfully I finished and still had time for a massage before the red carpet.
8. Finally, you need to realise how amazing you will feel afterwards. Once you’re home, you will feel so incredibly proud that it will make all the pain totally worthwhile. Good luck and remember, there is no rule saying you can’t take a break from time to time. You’ll get there in the end!