How can I best train for my autumn marathon?

With the recent postponement of major spring races, including Brighton Marathon, you might be left wondering where this leaves your training. We’ve asked the coaches at RunningWithUs to tell us how to successfully train for an autumn race day.

Life is bigger than running. The recent postponement of spring races including Brighton Marathon is disappointing for all of us… you’ve been training hard and we were looking forward to seeing you smash it on course. However, COVID-19 is a serious worry for all and we must focus on good hygiene, minimising risk and self-isolation where we can to keep the vulnerable safe and ourselves.

Train for an autumn marathon

It’s important to be sensible with training, eating well before and after your runs and making sure you are never over tired. If you start to feel unwell or start to display any symptoms, please seek the advice of a medical professional and then begin the process of self-isolating and full rest. Only resume training when healthy and have sought appropriate medical advice.

Where possible athletes and runners at all levels are encouraged to maintain their own personal fitness and keep active during this time, while following government guidelines about safe distance and safe exercise environments” – England Athletics, governing body for running in England

The training you complete now will make a difference to your autumn fitness, so it’s important to carry on enjoying your running by training alone in open spaces!

Here are our top tips to guide you through the spring and summer and help you retain your fitness and motivation:

  • Running releases endorphins, reduces stress and is a proven way to stay happy, healthy and positive… so don’t give up!
  • Your marathon might feel a little bit easier… why? Because it’s warmer in summer! An autumn race day shouldn’t suddenly feel too hot when you’ve acclimatised to running in warmer conditions all summer.
  • Try to carry on with your regular training, but you may want to reduce your long runs to 90 – 120 mins rather than battling through... especially when the race date is now much further away.
  • On the day you were scheduled to run our original half or full marathon, why not complete your own 10k or half marathon GPS timed distance effort? A great target and motivation by also giving closure to this period of training!
  • After this, we'd advise you to take a week or so off or, at most, complete a very easy week of training. You deserve this mini break before we start our summer training and start getting busy in May and June! Once you're ready to lace up your running shoes again, it's crucial to approach your return to running with a plan that prioritises gradual mileage increases, proper recovery, and listening to your body to prevent overtraining and injuries.

Train for an autumn marathon

In May and June, focus more on increasing your speed over shorter distances.

  • Switching your focus in May and June to shorter and faster training might be fun change of stimulus.
  • Following a plan keeps you in a routine, and you could even set yourself a personal time trial using your GPS over 5k or 10k every few weeks. Watch your fitness, speed and confidence continue to build!
  • Use the lighter morning and evenings to enjoy parks and countryside when nature is at it’s best! Just make sure you're maintaining a safe distance from others.
  • This 8 week period will boost your speed and maintain that spring fitness from earlier in the year. Then you'll be ready to move to half/full marathon training again... well done!

Train for an autumn marathon

In July... it's time for marathon training again!

  • Now it's time to start your half/full marathon training again!
  • You don’t need to think about a 16 week training block for this period, as you maintained your spring prep and boosted speed over the last few months. A simple step back to the last 10-12 weeks of your spring plan is all that’s needed up to race day.
  • Your long runs will increase again and so will some of the threshold or race specific workouts.
  • If you are looking to complete a half marathon before your autumn marathon, this would ideally be 4-8 weeks from race day so get booking and plan this in.
  • If it is hot in July and August, try to run early in the morning or later in the evenings to avoid the worst of the heat.
  • Remember to make sure you have had a good breakfast before the longest key training runs and practice good hydration by adding HIGH5 ZERO to your water and taking HIGH5 Energy Gel Aqua every 30-45 minutes!

Good luck, stay healthy and stay safe!

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