It's marathon time again! Or at least it's the very daunting time when runners have found out if they have their place in the 2018 London Marathon and eagerly scour the internet for that perfect training plan, read reams of articles on nutrition advice and book into the nearest running shop to have their gate analysed to find that sweet pair of new running kicks. All this excitement has spurred me into writing a blog which I had planned about 5 months ago having just crossed the finishing line of my first marathon. So, at long last, here you go, Salt’s personal lessons from the London Marathon 2017.
Plan your Pre-hab
Many people who take up a long distance running challenge get injured. Running takes a major toll on your joints and ligaments which, if you haven't done much distance running before, they will not be conditioned to. Build pre-hab into your training plan, including solid warm up routines, foam rolling, unilateral strength work, sports massages (if you can afford it) and stick to it. You can’t afford 2-4+ weeks out injured during your training, or even worse missing your event(!) because you didn’t prep your body for the significant change in stimulus.
Running a Marathon won’t make you fitter
CrossFit Level 1 alert: Fitness is a measure of 10 recognised general physical skills. Training for and running a marathon will increase your endurance and stamina, but you will suffer in other areas. I personally did the ‘minimum’ running specific training I believed I could manage, 2 sessions a week. This meant cutting down my CrossFit training from 5 to 3 sessions a week, and favouring sessions focused on Aerobic Capacity rather than Power or Gymnastics. Whilst I was able to get the results I wanted for my marathon, I had to fight to maintain my general fitness level static.
In my experience, a half marathon supplemented my CrossFit training, whereas the marathon took over both my training and a significant portion of my life!
People are really impressed by Marathons
Consider my Grace time and my Marathon time. I’m roughly in the top 15% of finishers for both. When I tell my Mum I PB’ed my Grace time she tells me that that sounds good and she is proud of me, but doesn’t really understand how much commitment has been required to get myself into a position to complete those 2 and a half minutes. Yet, when I crossed the Marathon finish line, it was phenomenal. There was champagne, tears (mostly mine), friends and family got told for weeks on end, it was a clear definition of physical fitness. This isn’t a dig at my Mum, she is lovely, but a representation of people’s perceptions of the input required in achieving your goal.
All you can focus on is your own input over the things you can control. Don’t be steered by others' perceptions of what your goal should be, or their understanding of the effort required for you to make it there. That said; lap it up as much as you can afterwards and shamelessly glug that Champagne!
The London Marathon will trump all other events you do
London is at its very best on Marathon day. The crowds are 6 deep for the full 26 miles, the noise is deafening, strangers even talk to you and congratulate you afterwards! Everyone will have their favourite landmark on the route, and you will see athletes genuinely breaking down in tears as the atmosphere becomes overwhelming. For me there is no better feeling than turning the corner onto Tower Bridge on a crisp bluebird day with the bands playing and the sea of colours from the runners and supporters. You feel like you are flying! I even had the audacity to think I wasn’t going to suffer the inevitable wall in the last 6 miles. I was truly honoured to run in this event and was incredibly proud of London. I can really say it was the hardest, best race I have ever done.