The Melbourne Marathon Festival is now not far away! Many runners are in the midst of their training for one of Australia’s biggest and most prestigious marathon events. The finish line at the MCG awaits but first the real work of training has to be done. The few months of running, recovery and planning will be challenging, but there are a few fundamentals that each of us need to stick to, no matter what pace or distance goals are.
Here are five of my top pieces of advice to surviving and flourishing over the next few months before your victory lap around the G’:
Firstly, don’t panic! Whilst it may seem that the clock is speeding up and there isn’t much time left to train, there is no need to panic. Remember that race day is not tomorrow, nor is it this weekend or next month. There is plenty of time to train and for your body to adapt to that training. Don’t rush into long runs or over extend yourself as you will increase your risk of injury. Start with where you are at. This requires a degree of honesty on your behalf and if what you can manage right now is a 20 minute jog around the block, so be it. Build from there. This is not the time to be overly optimistic!
Planning and structure helps. Now that you aren’t panicking and you know what your starting point is, it is time to plan. Take time to plan and structure this few months between now and race day. This plan should tell you what you are going to be doing each day to help you cross the line at the MCG. Be realistic in how much time you can commit to this goal and base it around your existing work, family and social commitments. You may want a qualified running coach to work through this planning with you, but if not, start by anchoring your plan around long runs, easy runs, some race effort runs and adequate recovery. Most running plans are twelve weeks long and will slowly build the length of your long runs, as well as include strategically placed recovery days or sessions, as well as a taper in the days leading up to the race.
Consistency is key. In my opinion this really is the key to training. Throughout your plan, you will miss the occasional training session. Don’t worry. It is consistent training over time that will serve you best. Consistency doesn’t necessarily mean training every day, it means training regularly and recovering properly as your program builds in distance and difficulty. This isn’t the most glamorous or exciting thing to say, but it is 100% what gets results. Place more value on being consistent, than being fast in any particular session. By aiming for consistency, you need to avoid injury, which means proper recovery, massage and rolling.
Long runs build endurance. The events at the Melbourne Marathon Festival are endurance events, therefore building your own endurance is key. This means spending time on your running legs. Runners across the globe use their weekends to get their long runs done. These runs give you belief that you can make the distance so do your best to not miss these sessions. As a general rule, run your longer runs slower than your race pace and try not to increase your distances by more than 10% each week.
Find and test your race day nutrition. You will struggle to get through a marathon or half marathon without taking any nutrition on board. Getting this wrong on race day can make not only minutes, but hours (yes, really!) difference to your time. It is worth experimenting to find the food/gel/drink that works for you and your stomach, then practice using it on your longer runs. Also check with the race organisers what nutrition will be available at aid stations on race day and how far apart the aid stations are.
We have put together a great Melbourne Marathon package to help you remove the guess work from the 12 weeks leading up to race day. If you think that you could use a bit of extra structure, accountability and coaching to reach your goal, then check it out here for more information and to register your interest.