With the start of a new year comes the excitement of knowing that race days for Tokyo, Boston, and the Virgin Money London Marathons will soon be upon us.
If you are training for one of these iconic races, here are some things to keep in mind as you aim to make this marathon training cycle your best!
Pacing is important come race day in order to avoid hitting the dreaded wall and feel your best at the finish line, but it's also something you should keep in mind as you train. Run too much, too fast, too soon, and you run the risk of injury or burnout. It's exciting to be training for one of the Abbott World Marathon Majors, but in that excitement it's best to resist the urge to ‘give it your all' in the first couple of miles. Pace yourself appropriately on a daily, weekly and monthly basis in order to show up to the start line ready to perform your best.
Whether this is your first marathon or your 10th, it's important to decide what your goal is for your upcoming race. If you have a time goal in mind, it's important to use that goal in setting up appropriate training paces. If your goal is simply to finish, figure out what steps you need to take leading up to the race to ensure that happens. As a 38-time marathoner, I like setting small goals throughout the training cycle to help keep me motivated. These goals often having nothing to do with time, but instead are focused on other areas that I'd like to improve in order to show up to the start line feeling healthy and strong.
Whether you have a coach, are self-coached, or are following a training plan you found online or in a book, it's important to be smart while training for a marathon. Regardless of how long you have been running, training for marathon asks a lot of your body. Pay attention to the signs your body is sending you. If you feel off one day or particularly run down, don't force a workout or a long run; move things around in your plan to make sure that you are being smart with your overall health. One run won't make your training cycle, but one run can certainly break it. The best laid out training plans allow for flexibility.
They say 'practice makes perfect,'and when it comes to the marathon, this adage couldn't be truer. Treat your training runs as a dress rehearsal for your race. Test out different clothing options so if come race day it's unseasonably warm or pouring rain you will have tested out gear that is appropriate. It's also extremely important to test out what you will be hydrating with on-course. On your long runs, practise taking your fuel at the exact mile you plan on taking it during the race. While race day may throw you some curve balls, you want to be able to control as many variables as possible. By practising different scenarios on your training runs you will feel confident at the start line that you are ready for nearly anything.
While the marathon is the ultimate celebration, it's important to celebrate the little training victories you have along the way. Did you go for a run in terrible weather? A run where the little voice in your head said: 'Hey let's skip this and drink hot chocolate on the couch instead!' Celebrate your strength for running when it wasn't easy! Did you hit your mileage goal for the week when work commitments were close to derailing your plans? Celebrate your ability to bend, but not break! Training for a marathon should add joy to your life. Celebrating the little milestones along the way can help keep you motivated.
Training for a marathon isn't always easy, but it is always worth it!