The Major Do’s and Don’ts of Running a Marathon

It’s nearly here – you’re just weeks away from your marathon day, and it’s time to put the finishing touches to your training.

But there are still a few essential things you need to do if you’re going to ensure you’re in the best possible form.

Follow these tips from our friends at Running With Us to make sure you get the most from your marathon performance.

 

 

 

The Do’s:

 

Motivation and positivity: It can be common to find yourself getting bored on the longer runs in the final few weeks, especially with temperatures dipping. Do stay positive – it happens! Surround yourself with people in training that will help you along the way. Plan to meet up with other runners to help motivate you to get out the door, and get the miles in. If that’s not possible, log your miles on Strava and encourage friends to share comments and kudos when you complete your next milestone. Use your running to explore new routes and places every now and then to keep things varied.

 

Nutrition is key: Make sure to fuel yourself cleverly. You will be burning more than you realise. Getting your nutrition right during training will help set you up for the perfect race day and give you the best possible chance of achieving a PB. Nutritional products can contain varying quantities of carbohydrate, protein and caffeine, so it’s very important to trial your nutrition during your longer runs and find what works for you. Don’t leave it until race day to try a new gel or bar. A HIGH5 trial pack offers a wide selection of options for both training and recovery. This simple nutrition guide will help you to fuel yourself properly so that you get the best from your marathon experience and enjoy it more.

 

Taper: Allow yourself to rest in the final couple of weeks. You need to go into the race feeling fresh rather than over-trained and tired. It’s good to keep muscles active and moving, but don’t be tempted to try and log the last-minute miles.

 

Pacing: Make sure to stick to your pace. Come the big day, try to avoid getting caught up on those running around you at the start. Remember all the hard work you have put into it and run the race just like you have in training. Stay focused and keep to your plan. If you’re attempting to run to a pace maker but find the pace too high, be honest about how you’re feeling, and whether you can maintain it. If you need to tag back to maintain better form mid-race, you might help yourself in the later miles.

 

 

The Don’ts:

 

Gear:  Don’t wear anything on the day you haven’t done in training. This can cause chafing and might even give you a reason to stop. Try out potential race day kit ideas in training on your easy runs to see how you feel in them… never on the day.

 

Sleep: Don’t be tempted to stay up too late and stand on your feet for long periods in the week leading up to your event: recovery is vital.  Make sure in the final weeks leading up to the race you are getting early nights and allowing maximum recovery. You need to listen to your body and sleep when you feel tired. The day before the race you need to be lying down as much as you can. Let family and friends around you know that you need to do this. This is a key period in your preparation – you have one chance.

 

Hydration: Try to avoid drinking too much, or in excess, during the final few days. It is possible to over-hydrate yourself which can risk leaving you feeling more tired as your body attempts to manage the extra fluid. Little and often throughout the day, (around 3-4 litres daily) is plenty when training for a marathon, however make sure you’re spreading it out. If you need to become better at hydrating yourself, start practising good habits early in your training. Electrolyte drinks are the best way to hydrate without having to take on huge amounts of water. They are filled with key nutrients. Check out this advice on hydration for what to drink and why.

 

 

For advice on what to eat and drink for your marathon, click here to see the HIGH5 Marathon Nutrition Guide and How To Carbo Load.

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The secret ingredient for your marathon training

How important is it to rest during high mileage weeks leading up to a race such as the London Marathon? The answer is, yes you’ve guessed it, VERY important! In fact, it could be argued that it is just as important as making sure you are getting 7+ hours sleep everyday to be able to get up and work/train/perform the next day.

Recovery is the key to performing. It is sometimes abused and often not taken seriously enough. No matter what level and ability you are, recovering needs to be just as important as training. Us runners can be a stubborn bunch. For me personally my one day a week rest day couldn’t come soon enough, however once it’s here I’m itching to get out the door and run. I know though how important it is that I rest. I feel recharged, happier and stronger when running again.

Recovery isn’t just resting from running though, it’s giving your brain a break from training and giving your body a chance to refuel and absorb the vital nutrients your muscles need to recover and prepare for another hard week of training. Be smart and refuel cleverly.

Taking on vital the ingredients at times that matter will make a huge impact to your training. Protein as we all know has a huge benefit to recovering. Protein shakes, bars and meals will repair your muscles after training and help rebuild damaged muscle tissue. HIGH5 uses the very highest quality of whey protein isolate for optimal recovery. Post exercise nutrition can improve the quality and the rate of recovery after exercise. This is vital for reaching and maintaining a high level of fitness. Less muscle damage and better recovery can result in stronger more resilient muscle, lower risk of injury and more rapid fitness gains from your training. HIGH5 offer a range products that will compliment your recovery. You might also want to add a twist to you recovery drink – you can find some great ideas here.

Protein Recovery Smoothie

HIGH5 Running Nutrition Guides have been designed to help you run faster and to finish a challenge, like a marathon, feeling strong and with a smile on your face. High5 work exceptionally hard to ensure that you can perform at your best. HIGH5 nutrition undergoes rigorous testing in both the lab and with athletes in the real world. It won’t let you down when it matters most. Here you can find guides to support you on your running journey.

Enjoy your rest days, embrace them as they will make us runners faster and fitter. Without rest days we would run ourselves into the ground through over-training and increasing our risk of picking up an injury. Look after yourself, fuel yourself with the correct nutrition that will help you to replenish the vitamins and minerals that we lose through training… and lastly inspire others! There is always someone working harder than you out there but there is also always someone wishing they could be doing just as much as you!

Be clever – train smart! Your team from RunningWithUs

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The importance of the ‘long run’ & how to progress

The coaching team from RunningWithUs take a look at the long run and how you can use it to your best advantage for your marathon training.

NYC_LOTR-3118 2 (1)The ‘long run’ can be the most daunting part of your running training plan. The length of a long run is relative to the person running it and the distance that they are training for, but generally speaking a long run is between one and three hours, running at a low intensity. The long run takes an increasing role through February if you’re training for a spring race. A great goal is to get in a consistent weekly long run of 1 hour 45 minutes to 2 hours at a relaxed and conversational effort by the middle to end of February.

Increasing the miles
Patience is key, even for the more experienced runners. Adding 10-15 minutes each week onto your long run is a sensible progression. Don’t be surprised if niggles and fatigue set in as you start jumping up by 30-40 minutes at a time.

What pace should I run my long runs?
In early February, aim to keep your long runs at a fully conversational, relaxed pace that’s 45-60 seconds a mile slower than your planned marathon pace. This will build your body’s ability to burn stored fats and ensure you are fresh enough to hit your quality sessions mid-week.NYC_LOTR-0949

Pre-marathon race prep
Using a half marathon race as a marathon paced long run can be a great way of building confidence around
your goal marathon pace. As extra preparation, try adding 20-30 minutes easy before and after the half marathon.

How to fuel your long runs
When your long run starts to extend beyond the 1 hour 30 minute mark, we recommend your really start to practice with different options for pre-run breakfasts and also fuelling during the run itself. Your long run is the best opportunity to practise your race day nutrition strategy. Gels are the most efficient and effective way of getting carbohydrates quickly into the system whilst running. To start with, take small sips of gel and look to take one every 30-60 minutes or so during the course of your long run.

IMG_3102What gels should I choose?
There are lots of brands out there offering similar sports nutrition. HIGH5 have always been our ‘go to’ brand for fuelling and recovery. It’s clean energy with no added nasties, like artificial sweeteners.
Take one EnergyGel Plus or IsoGel Plus sachet every 20-30 minutes. Wait until 30 minutes from the start of your race before taking your first sachet. The most convenient way of carrying gels is to use a Gel Belt but make sure you test it out in training. There are always a few runners that lose their gels within the first miles of a race because the gels are the wrong size for their belt.

To ensure you are fuelling and refuelling yourself clever, check out HIGH5 Marathon Nutrition Guide.

Be safe, work hard and enjoy your run!

RunningWithUs

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Be a stronger runner this year

‘New Year, New You’! We’ve heard it loads before but what does it actually mean for you as an individual runner? The new year provides both a chance to start afresh, tackle new challenges and set new goals, review and consolidate the good training you may have implemented in 2016.

W13240603_1088938937846415_1548091568490348331_nhen thinking about 2017, runners can be broadly split into two categories: those who get majorly motivated by the statement and begin to plan this ‘New Self’ versus those who cynically think ‘yeah yeah I’ve tried it all before’.

The main reason many runner’s new years resolutions fail is because the goals are often too extreme and the changes unrealistic. However by choosing the correct targets for YOU and planning exactly how you are going to achieve them. By the end of 2017 you could find yourself smugly looking back over 12 months of new years resolutions having come true.

Here are some suggestions from HIGH5 running coaches Running With Us for different categories of runners who are looking for some new year inspiration or guidance.

The raw recruit

Park Blue 5354 croppedRunning has massively grown in popularity over the last few years and as running coaches we see a big influx of new runners into the sport each January. If you are a complete beginner and your New Years resolution is to take up running from scratch then firstly you need to choose an achievable target. A 5k is a great starting distance. The end goal gives your running focus and the training is manageable and not too daunting. Check out www.parkrun.org which might be a great place to start, plan your campaign to get to 5km to last 6-8 weeks and work with a structured plan if you can.

Work out how many times you can realistically fit running or exercise into your week and use this as a basis when choosing a training schedule. The number of training sessions can always be increased as fitness and motivation progress as the weeks go on, but beginning with an unrealistic number of sessions per week can often lead to demotivation due to this being unachievable. Too many people want to go from zero to hero in the first week!

Consistency is key, so if two or three runs per week fits in with your life balance right now and is an obtainable target then stick to this. Regularity of training over a few weeks beats binge training one week and doing nothing the next. If you can link up with a local running club or group who will help to motivate and inspire you to keep progressing. If you are not sure where to start check out www.runtogether.co.uk – there you will find details of groups in your area.

The seasoned campaigner

Training PlanIf you are a more experienced runner you have a choice. Churn out the same routes, runs and races or are you going to finally break that plateau and achieve some new PBs? If so then some changes certainly need to be made…

Sit down with a calendar; consider your goals, injuries, lifestyle and your current fitness and target a race that will allow you the time to peak at your optimum physical condition. For a marathon or a half this might require 12 months, for a 10km you might try to peak twice in a year but give yourself the time to incorporate some of the advice below. This is your macrocycle.

Within this period you should aim to break your year down into smaller chunks that give you the opportunity to develop different elements of your fitness: your endurance, your strength, your speed, your race pace, your taper. These smaller chunks are your mesocycles which typically last 4-8 weeks. Try some periods and races that will take you out of your comfort zone. For example, if you tend to focus on marathons and ultras look to include a phase in the year focusing on short distances and working on your 5-10km time or maybe even get onto the track in the summer. In the winter the cross country season can provide a great way of challenging your body differently.

Analyse what went right and wrong within last years training. Stick to the positive elements but change the negative. This may mean choosing a new and challenging training schedule, finding a coach who can give you fresh advice and structure or beginning training with other runners by joining a group/club.

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The Spring marathoner
If 2017 is beginning with a spring marathon target for you, then let’s get organised and ensure you are on the road to success.

  • Have you chosen a good trustworthy training schedule that will guide you through the next 12 to 14 weeks and is suited to your ability? We have some great training plans here.
  • Have you scheduled in your pre-marathon races? One or two half marathons along the way will provide short and mid term goals and will give you an indication of how your training is going.
  • Are you wearing the correct trainers that have been fitted properly and suit your running needs?
  • Have you found a good trustworthy physio to help you with sports massage, injury prevention and provide an MOT to check for strengths/weaknesses and advise on what to concentrate on in order to get to that start line in one piece?

Have a look at the points above and aim to have them all ticked in order to begin your marathon journey successfully. It is time to get organised and get motivated. You can’t cram for a marathon and it is a process of putting all of the correct ingredients together in order to achieve your 26.2 miles of success!

Make 2017 the year you take control of your running. For nutrition advice for running check out this section: https://highfive.co.uk/high5-faster-and-further/#running.

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Understanding my training zones

Have you ever left the front door not sure how fast to run? You may have a training plan, but just how hard is an easy run and how should your threshold or interval training feel? Our coaching partners Running With Us explain the different effort levels and what these should feel like.

Easy/Recovery running
Gi_WomanOnTreadmill_RT2croppedFor those of you who are very new to running, we promise that this sport doesn’t have to be exhausting and each run shouldn’t leave you tired for days. The early runs where you are learning to cover distance and time should be completed at the speed of chat. That’s right, you should be able to still talk to the person next to you whilst running. We call this the ‘talk test’ and it is great to use to gage your effort level.

For those who are more experienced, running at ‘the speed of chat’ is how your easy runs should feel in a training week. You should feel totally in control, relaxed and able to talk whilst running. This is easier to check whilst running with a friend but if on your own, you may find you are running along the street talking to yourself. It’s not a bad thing as long as it helps you gage your effort! If you wanted to give this type of running a score on an effort level 1-10 (1 being the easiest) it should be 6/10.

If experienced and running before breakfast, your easy runs could become crucial in your half, full and even ultra marathon training. Running at 6/10 or around the 60% of max heart rate will ensure much of your energy comes from stored fats. In events where you will be working for longer than 90 minutes at a consistent effort, becoming efficient at metabolising stored fats as a fuel source will become crucial in your quest for a new PB, even when you take gels and have a good breakfast on race day. It is therefore very wise to make some of your easy/recovery runs pre-breakfast moments, stimulating this stored fat system and preparing the body to use both stored fat and carbohydrate on race day.

Effort level: 6 out of 10 or around 60% of your maximum heart rate (MHR)

Top Tip – The key to this zone is making sure you can hold a conversation easily at anytime and feeling totally in control.

Steady Running
The next level: this is steady running and the backbone of training for the more experienced. It isn’t complicated but does require honesty. You can push this area too hard and run junk miles that leave you too tired for the important sessions that we will talk about next. This area is perhaps a 7/10 on your scorecard and is still conversational, although the chat is slightly strained.

Effort level: 7/10 or around 70% MHR

Top Tip – Many runners run or drift along at a steady effort on their easy and recovery days never allowing their bodies to regenerate in an optimum way. Be careful not to compromise your next harder day or key session by running steady all week!
IMG_3129cropped

Threshold & tempo running
If you really want to train like a pro and begin to see your heart get stronger, stoke volume improve and ultimately your running economy progress then this is the magic area. We call this ‘uncomfortable running’ or ‘controlled discomfort.’

The real key though is that you can still talk between each breath but it’s only 3-4 word answers. If you can utter a couple of distressed words, you are working too hard and conversely if you can say most of a sentence you are not working hard enough. This is running uncomfortably but with control… just! It is certainly not sprinting or running to exhaustion.

Initially, you might only be ready to include a few 3-minute blocks of this in a run each week but it can grow and you can build the volume over the months. We call this type of running ‘the bedrock’ and it is vital when becoming a better runner. Sessions could grow from 4 x 5 minutes with a jog recovery to 3 x 10 mins and ultimately 20-30 mins all controlled and cruising at a consistent pace but still just in the aerobic zone.

Our 3-4 word talk test is pretty accurate but for those of you wanting to get this spot on and nail the marginal gains, we suggest a lab test to establish lactate levels against heart rate and even your current VO2 max. Your heart rate monitor will then guide you perfectly with training zones that match your personal running DNA.

Effort level: 8/10 0r around 80-85% MHR

Top Tip – The key to this magic zone is keeping it feeling like 3-4 word answer pace and not progressively harder. You shouldn’t feel like you are in the final stages of a 5k or 10k. Keep that control… just!

Warehouse GrayPink 9074Interval training & VO2 max/high lactate sessions
It’s time to visit the hurt locker! To a point, how a 5k/10k effort or intense interval training feels is up to you. You could be wise and hold back slightly letting the pace and intensity prescribed build the pain for you, or you could be the head banger who loves to hit it harder and hang on. The choice is yours but remember to be consistent in this zone. It is meant to hurt and sessions such as 6-8 x 1km or 6 x 4 mins off 75-90 seconds recovery can really hurt and require focus.

Runners often prefer to train in a group when doing these sessions, hunting as a pack and helping to push each other on. These sessions will certainly boost your VO2 max though and make that engine of yours (the heart) a few cylinders stronger but you can’t visit this zone too often. Maybe once a week in a thought out training plan but only when you are already running threshold each week and feeling good.

Effort level: above 8.5/10 or higher than 85% MHR

Top tip – Join a running group, club or friends to complete these sessions. Completing weekly interval sessions with others adds competition, company and disguises the true pain and mental strength required to nail the moment.

Training PlanSo the next time you leave the front door have a planned route and know what you want from your training. Have a purpose and listen to your body as you run.

Remember these 4 key levels/zones:
• Easy run – fully conversational at the speed of chat and about 6/10 (60-65% max heart rate)
• Steady run – conversational, controlled but slightly strained and about 7/10 (70-75% max heart rate)
• Threshold running – controlled discomfort and 3-4 word answer pace or8-9/10 (80 – 85% max heart rate, but get tested to be sure)
• Interval training & 5k/10k effort or quicker – No time to chat here and 9/10 or more as the session progresses. It’s 1 or 2 word answer time and perhaps more of a grunt (85% -over 90% max heart rate…ouch!)

Do you have any run related questions? Ask Nick Anderson from Running With Us on twitter @nickandersonrun

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