In the final stretch leading up to the Virgin Money London Marathon, what are the main lessons that you have learned over the course of your training?
Elin: As you may have seen in previous posts, Dom and I are running not just one marathon, but two in two weeks! They will be my sixth and seventh marathons, and Dom’s first and second. I’ve really enjoyed this training cycle – so it’s nice to be able to share some learnings from a good one!
Dom: I always expected the training process to be horrible and painful, but it is a necessary evil to make sure you’re ready for the race itself. Because it’s my first marathon, every time that we do a long run, it’s the furthest I’ve ever run. This really keeps me going. Dare I say that I have enjoyed the training…
The main things we’ve learned:
- Recovery is super important. Make sure you have enough rest days to allow your body to recover from exercise – particularly long runs or fast runs. We’ve also been making sure to take a 10-minute ice bath after our longer runs to help with that recovery and it really seems to do the trick!
- Get your sleep in! We’ve really been making an effort to go to bed earlier in order to get in 7.5 hours sleep – and it really has made a difference to our energy levels!
- Treat yourself to a good pair of shoes. This is quite obviously something you want to figure out early on, but make sure you invest in a pair that are right for YOU.
- Use the experience to explore new routes. Either within your hometown or at a new city. The Holiday Inn Rest and Run Hub is amazing for finding new routes if you don’t know where to start! Plus, it helps reduce long-run boredom.
- Make a plan – and STICK to it. Find a training plan (there are loads online that are available for free) and try to stick to it! Luckily, we have access to my dad – who’s just run his 36th marathon (!!) so we can always turn to him for advice when needed.
- Train on hills. Even if your race is a flat one – like London. It helps to build up strength in your legs and glutes and, while they may not be enjoyable, they do give you a great sense of achievement after reaching the top!
- Test EVERYTHING. I mean it. From clothes to nutrition, it’s really important to test it all out on training runs beforehand. You don’t want to get to mile 18 and your new top / shorts are chafing and that gel that you accepted from a kind stranger just isn’t agreeing with your stomach – you’ll be in for a rough 8 miles!
- Vaseline is your new best friend. Rub it on your feet and on any areas that may chafe.
- Know that not all runs will be good. No matter how far into the training cycle you are, bad runs can creep up on you! It’s frustrating, yes – but you may even be able to figure out what caused it – a bad night’s sleep or eating Mexican food the night before.
- Always bring your card. Long runs are hard enough as they are – don’t put yourself in a position where you can’t access a drink or a lift home because you don’t have any money on you!
- It really is mind over matter. Your brain always wants to give up first. When that happens, and that little voice in your brain is telling you to stop, just focus on your breathing, your legs, your feet – do they feel fine, strong even? Go with that. Focus on the positives!
- Remember to have fun. Try not to stress too much about pace or finish time and try to enjoy the big day – the crowds, the route, the weather (hopefully) and crossing the line at the end. Obviously, some of this is out of your control, but if you focus on the positives, you will enjoy yourself!
Elin: I’m so excited to get out there and experience London again. The feeling of achievement and pride you get with completing your training cycle and crossing that finish line is pretty unbeatable – it’s the reason why I keep going back for more!
Dom: Thanks to a really good training cycle I’m just not feeling that nervous – I’ve had two very experienced marathon runners at my disposal to help me along the way and for that reason I feel totally prepared. Now I’m just looking forward to experiencing the whole event and crossing that finish line!