Here we go, kicking off another week.. another week of training in the bank and another week closer to the big day… are you getting excited yet?!
What I wanted to talk about today was nerves, getting worried and scared, feeling like it’s all too much, unsure if you can complete it and dealing with pressure.
When I was training for my first few marathons (my goal was sub 4 hours at that time) I always felt that everyone else out there found the training easy and I was alone with all the struggles I was facing. Fast forward to 2019, I still find the training hard and still get nervous, but spend lots of time learning and seeking out the best answers to my questions.
So for this week's longer read, I wanted to try and help you with some things you might be worried about. These are all questions I’ve been sent in the last week, so wanted to share my answers to try and help more runners out.
As always, there isn’t necessarily a right or wrong answer sometimes, so please feel free to comment below with your advice too.. or add your own questions in the comments, so that I can get back to you there!
So here we go!
I’ve missed a run from my plan, will I be ok?
I’d hazard a guess that 99.99% of runners won’t do every run exactly on their plan. Life gets in the way, illness and injury can strike and so on. But don’t worry. I’d say that if you hit 80% of your runs on the plan then you’ll be ok! Focus on your weekly long run, your speed session and a shorter easy low intensity run. Success comes from consistency over the course of a whole plan so focus on that rather than having to hit and smash every run or session.
I get tired on my long runs, am I doing something wrong?
For many runners the traditional weekend long run is now getting over an hour, so it’s certainly time to think about taking some nutrition along with you. Gels are certainly easy and convenient and good practice for race day, where you will most likely have them with you. My advice on a brand? Try as many as you can! Just because it works for me, doesn’t mean it will work for you. Some runners prefer ‘real’ food, such as bars or fruit. So if you don’t like the sound of gels, then try other options. Whatever you feel is going to work, start with that and practice it and don’t be afraid to try various options.
It’s usually best to eat and drink something around 2 hours to 1 1/2 hours before you set out on your run, so your body will have enough time to digest it.
Finally if you are tired at the end, then it’s because you’ve been working hard.. stick with it and after weeks and months of continuously showing up and getting it done, that same effort will get easier.
I sometimes stop on my long runs, is that ok?
There are so many reasons why we might stop during a run. Getting food or water, going to the loo, giving yourself a breather, take a photo, chat to a friend you etc etc.. whatever the reason it’s completely fine! If you go out for a long run, of say.. 2 hours and you spend 10 minutes, stopped, then there’s no problem with that at all. While of course it’s great if you can carry on, as it’s a good mental test for race day, it certainly won’t harm your training with a few stops here and there. One small additional note though, if you’re running a session, so intervals, hills, progressive, then try not to stop on those runs!
Running 26 miles feels so far right now. Can I do it?
Yes you can! Well the statistics are on your side. In London, around 98.5% of people who start the race on Blackheath will cross the finish line outside Buckingham Palace. We all have many miles of training ahead over the next three to four months, training where you’ll go from a runner into a marathon runner. You’ll learn so much about yourself, there will be ups and downs, but ultimately if you can get yourself to the start line fit and healthy, chances are you’ll cross that finish line!
I want to run a sub 4 hour marathon, but don’t think I can?
So many runners get time obsessed. They want to run a certain time on the day.. sub 3, sub 4, sub 5 etc. And while that’s a great goal to have, all you need to be thinking right now is the training process. What are you going to do today, what are you doing this week? I strongly suggest that the goal for any first time marathoner is just to finish and finish with a smile on your face. Then if you decide to run another race, you can work on improving your time with all the experience you have gained!
However you look at it, January is too early to be thinking about goal paces for race day. Concentrate on the training and leave the goal pace setting for 2-3 weeks before race day if you must!
I know I need to do strength work, but don’t have time.. now I’m worried I’ll get injured?
Everyone should be trying to incorporate some strength work each week, but that doesn’t mean lifting heavy weights at the gym. My quick 5 exercise circuit I do at home includes Squats, Bridges, Calf Raises, Plank and Clams. You just need an exercise band for clams (around £5/$5 for a set on Amazon) and you could add some weight with a kettlebell over time with these as well. This short routine will really help if you can’t make it to the gym.
What if I need the toilet during the marathon?
All big marathons will have plenty of toilets at the start. Just make sure you get there in enough time though because queues can be long! If you need to go during the race, then I've never ran a marathon without portable loos on the course.
What happens if I can’t get water during the race?
In the London marathon there are water stations every mile of the race, so you will never be far away from getting fluids on board. They handed out 650,000 bottles last year, which is around 4.5L per runner. The key is always drink to thirst. If you’re thirsty then take a drink, if you’re not then carry on to the next one. If you’re still worried then you can take a bottle with you, or even a hydration vest. In 2019, they are extremely comfortable and then you’ll be safe knowing you can’t run out.
Practice drinking and running on your longer runs.. why not plot a looped route near your house, where you can leave a bottle on a table and practice running past every few miles and taking fluids on board?
All my friends on Strava / Facebook / Instagram are doing so well. I feel left behind?
Social media.. ahh, yes. So many positives, but it can be hard to stop yourself from comparing yourself to other runners out there. Seeing what they are doing and worrying about your own training. As hard as it is, please please try not to compare yourself to anyone but your previous self. We are all on different journeys, with different goals, so while it’s great to chat to others and speak about what’s happening, the training you do needs to be right for you and you alone! Whether you are looking up Mo Farah’s schedule or Steve and Sue from next door, the only thing that matters is your training and not what anyone else is doing.
I’ve got no one to talk to that understands what I’m going through?
There’s lots of communities out there full of runners, who will happily offer advice and support. I always say for people to drop me a message and I’ll try and help in any way I can. Or leave a message below and I’ll get back to you there.
Finally, having a few nerves is a good thing. It shows you care and want to do well. You are capable of more that you think, get your plans in place, be confident and you’ll be amazing come race day.
Of course if you have any questions or things you are worried about then comment below and the community can help out. Chances are you are not alone and others are experiencing the same concerns so let’s speak up about them now so you can get to the start line feeling like you can tackle whatever is thrown at you!
Have a great weeks training everyone!!