Health & Fitness

Run, Forrest, Run: How To Go About Conquering 26 Miles

Got ‘run a marathon’ on your bucket list? Here’s how you can actually do it

It’s that time of year, when the most eager, nimble-limbed runners hit the streets for one of the most ambitious challenges, London Marathon. Even the finest athletes will struggle to say 26 miles is short of hard work, but there are plenty of people, plenty of normal muggle people, like you and I, who do it. 26 miles. On foot. It is possible. And if it’s on your bucket list, or you’re just feeling super inspired, here’s how to go about taking it on.

Build up your distances slowly

You can’t go from zero to hero in days, and you definitely can’t run 26 miles off the cuff. Build up your distances slowly. It’s incredibly important, not only not to overwhelm yourself but also to stay injury free. Run too far to fast and you’ll be out for weeks with shin splints. Running experts suggest upping your distances no more than 10% week on week so that you can injury free.

Start running regularly

When you’re training for a marathon, you need to be running about 3 times a week to get stronger and get your legs used to the process of going the distance. Though you don’t want to push yourself too hard, running regularly is going to get your legs and body more comfortable, and dramatically reduce your chance of injury. In the peak of marathon training, you should be doing one long run a week (10 miles plus), and two shorter runs (3-8 miles). Try running home from work, or getting up and getting it done early before you go. You’ll feel like such an over-achiever in the process.

Clear your diary

And on that note, you’re going to need to clear your diary. We’re not suggesting you become a total recluse, but prepare to have to say no to the odd boozy afternoon in the pub, and miss out on a few Friday nights on the town because training for a marathon is a commitment and one that you have to put the hours in for. 3 hour training runs are no joke with hangover... But don’t worry, you’re going to meet a whole group of new friends along the way. Get yourself into a running club like adidas Runners to meet likeminded people who’ll be all over your wavelength for the next few months.

Do Fartlek training

The curse of all evil but also, the route to success in upping your speed and getting that time down. Fartlek training is Swedish for ’speed play’ and is the idea of periods of fast running intermixed with regular/ slower placed running. For example, 3 minutes standard pace, 1 minute sprint, for 20 minutes. It’s not easy and it’s not all that fun! And though speed certainly isn’t everything when it comes to long distance, adding Fartlek to your training will make you an all-round stronger runner. Give it a go.

Sign up for a half marathon

Tick the half way box first and do at least a couple of half marathons in your training period. It will give you an initial goal for starters and it will get you a lot more comfortable with the race environment. Plus, it’s a major milestone — 13.1 miles is IMPRESSIVE.

Strengthen your core

One of the biggest things lots of people omit to realise is that great runners don’t just run. And to run a marathon you need to be doing more than just pounding the pavement. Course putting the miles in is a big part of it but you shouldn’t totally sacrifice your other training, as a strong core is essential to be the best, most efficient runner. Hit the gym, get yourself to Legs Bums ’n’ Tums, throw punches at a boxing bag, swim… Get on it. Varied training also makes for a nice change from the running, and even at the height of your training, you’re only going to be running 3 times a week or so, so there’s plenty of time to fit a few other things in.

Rest and Recover

Don’t over do it. Yes, you’re going to be running more and upping your training in the process, but it’s essential to find make plenty of time for R&R too. Baths are a major part of marathon training — along with the hot, bubbly kind, the professionals swear by post-run ice baths too… You’ve got to be pretty hardcore to handle those though. Get yourself a giant bag of Epsom salts and reward yourself after every training run with a recovery soak.

Massage therapy

Spend the money you’ve saved from fewer boozy nights out on sports massages instead. They’re a game changer and if you find yourself suffering with shin splints or any running-related niggles, they’re a total lifeline too. Don’t get us wrong, they can be a lot more intense than a regular massage, but they do wonders for your muscles and will keep you injury free.

READ MORE: Dairy-Free Diets Could Be Causing Risk To Bone Health

READ MORE: 5 Minutes With Celeb Trainer Simone De La Rue

Grazia magazine cover