Run­ning 26.2 miles is a big un­der­tak­ing, so we asked some ex­perts to of­fer their ad­vice about the marathon

Athletics Weekly - - Marathon Guide 2018 -

THERE is a seem­ingly nev­erend­ing stream of ad­vice out there for marathon run­ners these days. We are never short of an ex­pert opin­ion or two at Athletics

Weekly and have pulled to­gether some things for you to think about as you be­gin to make your marathon prepa­ra­tions.


The lead-up to be­gin­ning marathon train­ing is the per­fect time to ad­dress any weak­nesses in your form, in­sists run­ning tech­nique spe­cial­ist James Dunne of Ki­netic Rev­o­lu­tion.

“If there are any idio­syn­cra­sies within your own per­sonal run­ning form, that can re­sult in you get­ting tight in cer­tain ar­eas or weak in oth­ers,” says Dunne. “That, in turn, over­loads other ar­eas, then all of a sud­den we get to the point where we re­ally re­in­force these im­bal­ances and flaws.

“A nice way to mit­i­gate that is to look at break­ing up the move­ment pat­terns and start to think how to build your body into that of an all-round ath­lete.”

He adds: “Hips and an­kles are re­ally, re­ally im­por­tant. Think about hip sta­bil­ity, hip mo­bil­ity and strength around that re­gion and com­bine that with a cer­tain amount of spring or stiff­ness around the an­kles. Hip mo­bil­ity is what I gen­er­ally get run­ners to fo­cus on first. Make sure you make time for reg­u­lar mo­bil­ity and sta­bil­ity work.”


“Cross coun­try is the back­bone of en­durance run­ning,” says Liz McCol­gan-Nut­tall, for­mer 10,000m world cham­pion, win­ner of the

New York, Tokyo and New York marathons and am­bas­sador for the Stir­ling Scot­tish Marathon and Birm­ing­ham In­ter­na­tional Marathon.

“It gives you the strength in the legs, it gives you the drive that you need and it’s all very akin to the kind of run­ning that you need to be a marathon run­ner.

“Most marathon run­ners will come from a good cross-coun­try back­ground. Very few dis­tance run­ners I know that went on to be cham­pi­ons didn’t come from do­ing the mud run­ning from a young age.

“It uses all the mus­cles in your feet and your legs – ev­ery­thing that you need to use, it strength­ens. You’ve got to be care­ful of the im­pact (marathon) train­ing will have on your legs and peo­ple for­get that there are a loads of green ar­eas all over Bri­tain where you could re­ally ben­e­fit from do­ing fartleks, hill run­ning and bare­foot run­ning, which I did a lot.

“There are so many el­e­ments that you can do other than just get­ting on a road or get­ting on a tread­mill and run­ning for two hours. Be­cause that’s not what marathon run­ning is. When you do a marathon, you’re run­ning any­thing from two-and-a-half hours to five hours and you’ve got to pre­pare your body for that.”


“The marathon is an aer­o­bic event and there­fore you must tai­lor your train­ing to make your body ef­fi­cient at burn­ing fat and run­ning aer­o­bi­cally,” says Mara Ya­mauchi, the sec­ond-fastest Bri­tish fe­male marathon run­ner in his­tory. “This will spare car­bo­hy­drate dur­ing a race and pre­vent you run­ning out of fuel.

“Some run­ners mis­un­der­stand this and think they can han­dle a marathon just by adding a longer run to a train­ing pro­gramme which con­sists mainly of fast, anaer­o­bic work. For the marathon, train­ing at speeds in be­tween a jog and fast in­ter­vals is im­por­tant.”

With spe­cific re­gard to the tra­di­tional long run, she adds: “Lots of peo­ple run too slowly and get a lim­ited adap­ta­tion.

“I ran well in my early ca­reer over 10km and half-marathon, but

poorly over the full marathon. In the lat­ter part of my ca­reer af­ter I re­ally worked on aer­o­bic marathon­spe­cific train­ing. I didn’t im­prove my 10km or half-marathon times, but my marathon did im­prove.”


“A train­ing di­ary can re­ally help to keep you mo­ti­vated and I’d rec­om­mend ev­ery­one keep some sort of run­ning log,” says mul­ti­ple Olympic and world cham­pion over 5000m and 10,000m, Mo Farah, who will run his sec­ond Lon­don Marathon in 2018.

“Like ev­ery­one, I have mo­ments of self-doubt and there’s noth­ing bet­ter than flick­ing back to see how well you have been run­ning.

“I write ev­ery­thing down in a di­ary, but it doesn’t mat­ter if it’s on­line or on pa­per, it can be in­spir­ing to look back at how far you have come. I do it all the time and it al­ways has a pos­i­tive ef­fect.”


“One of the keys to run­ning a marathon suc­cess­fully, no mat­ter what level of run­ner you are, is to fo­cus on the task at hand and ex­e­cute your race plan,” says run­ning writer Dr Ja­son Karp, who holds a PhD in ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­ogy.

“It’s of­ten easy to let other things or out­side or self-im­posed pres­sures be­come dis­trac­tions or let your mind wan­der dur­ing a race.

“If you don’t al­low those things to be­come dis­trac­tions and in­stead fo­cus on your per­for­mance to the ex­clu­sion of ev­ery­thing else, you will per­form at your high­est level.

“Re­main­ing pos­i­tive when things don’t go as planned be­fore or dur­ing your race keeps you calm and helps you run well.

“At the start­ing line and when you’re in the mid­dle of the race, re­move all the neg­a­tive thoughts and re­place them with pos­i­tive ones.”


“Phys­i­cally the marathon is not like the track where you’re kick­ing and you’re look­ing to reach a cer­tain point and then us­ing an­other gear,” says three-time Olympian and in­ter­na­tional marathon run­ner Dathan Ritzen­hein.

“In the marathon there are no more gears and when you get to that point it’s re­ally just a metabolic race. Ei­ther you’ve got the fuel and the en­ergy to keep mov­ing or you don’t.

“It’s an event where you can take back a lot of time or you can lose a lot of time at the end.

“Whereas on the track if you get dropped then you’re done, in the marathon some­one can come back a minute or two in the last few miles and then it’s all about what hap­pened ear­lier in the race, how the prepa­ra­tion was and it’s amaz­ing when that hap­pens.

“A lot of it is about com­pet­ing against your­self, re­ally. It’s about what you can han­dle and what you can do. Some­times it’s just about min­imis­ing mis­takes in the train­ing and in the race. There are so many vari­ables.”


“The marathon is the hard­est thing there is,” says Haile Ge­brse­lassie, run­ning great and for­mer world marathon record-holder. “The whole 42,195 me­tres long you are fight­ing the dis­tance. The only way to over­come the dis­tance is to be dis­ci­plined and pa­tient.

“Pa­tience is very im­por­tant. Only then can you give 110%. With only 100% you will not make it.”


“Just make sure you en­joy it!” says for­mer Euro­pean 10,000m cham­pion and two-time Lon­don Marathon com­peti­tor Jo Pavey. “Take in the amaz­ing at­mos­phere and re­ally en­joy the day.

“Go for it and good luck! It will be an amaz­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and some­thing you’ll re­mem­ber for­ever.”

Liz McCol­ganNut­tall: ex­pe­ri­ence

Jo Pavey: en­joy your­self

Pa­tience: Haile Ge­brse­lassie

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