The Melbourne Marathon is less than a week away. I’m feeling good, all my little niggles (hip, ankle, knee, entire body) have settled down. Taper has been good to me.
I feel like this is a good time to reflect on how much of a miracle it is that I’ve made it this far. When I first started this journey, I was so blissfully ignorant at how much of a battle I’d taken on. Before the start of this year, I wasn’t a runner at all. I hated running. Oh, I’d do the odd 4km fun run every year or so, but that’s about it. As far as physical activity goes, I was more a yoga-and-pilates kind of girl. And before I had kids, I was more of a shaking-my-ass-and-waving-glow-sticks-to-techno kind of girl.
But thank god I was so ignorant, otherwise I wouldn’t have tried it at all.
So I think I’m pretty qualified to give some tips on marathon training for first timers who are as lazy as I am.
Number 1 – Don’t do it.
I’m just kidding.
Sort of. It’s true, if I had’ve known how much work it was actually going to be, how much time, effort, pain and money that it takes, I wouldn’t have tried it. But now that I’m almost there, I have to say that the personal growth I’ve gotten from this journey is incredible. My confidence has soared. I’m really testing my limits for the very first time in my life, and I’m genuinely surprised at how much I’ve accomplished. It’s a strange feeling – I kind of want to try everything now, all of my weird dreams and odd bucket-list items. No matter how long they might take or how hard they might be to accomplish. Because if I can do this one, I can do anything.
So look out world, you’re getting yourself a new indie horror silent film director!
Number 2 – Get yourself a coach
If there’s one thing you need, it’s proper support. I got this guy:
Coach Chris is literally the only reason I’m still going. Here are the reasons why:
- You need the emotional support. He’s always pinging my messenger and leaving notes on my Insta posts, saying encouraging and wildly inaccurate things like “you smashed that run!” and “you’re a champion!”
- You need to be held accountable. Chris is always stalking Strava (the app I use to record and pace my runs) to make sure I’ve done my scheduled run, so he can see how well I’ve done. And if I haven’t done it, he’ll message me and give me a prod. And I’ll make up some excuse, which he never believes, then I’ll feel bad, like when I was a teenager and I disappointed my dad or something.
- You need someone to design your training plan so it’s appropriate for you. It has to be personal, and it has to fit in with your schedule and lifestyle. It has to cover all the long runs, the tempo training, interval training, fartleks, yasso’s and all the other amusing words I’ve learned. You need to cover all these to make sure you build your strength and endurance properly.
- You need someone to make sure you don’t get injured. Chris is always checking in to see how my body is feeling, if I’m sore in any spots, and he works to correct whatever I’ve done wrong. It’s usually to do with low tempo – how many steps I’m turning over – or to do with form – how shit my posture is when I’m running. And we’ll work on it, and he’s referred me to technique coach Nathan at Enfer Running to sort out my form a couple of times. And it’s worked!
In summary, unless you’re extremely disciplined, wildly confident and have a will of iron, get yourself a coach. It’s the best thing I’ve done.
Number 3 – Get yourself a crew
When I met Chris he hooked me up with a running group that meets at 6.05am on Tuesday mornings, appropriately named the 605 crew. Running with these guys never feels like a chore. It’s social, fun and beautiful. They’re all inspiring human beings from all walks of life. We connect over messenger throughout the week, we celebrate each other’s achievements and commiserate the hard times. Getting up at 5.30am to meet them is never a hard thing for me to do, and watching the sun rise on the beach at Port Melbourne is the best way to start the day. For motivation, encouragement, socialization and general goodwill, I recommend you join a crew. Come to mine, we’re awesome!
Number 4 – Cross Train
If you’ve got a coach, this will be in your training plan. You have to make sure you’ve got the muscle strength in your core and glutes to take on this distance. If your ass is weak, your whole body will collapse. On that note…
Number 5 – If a professional gives you exercises to do, DO THEM.
I failed at this one a few times. When I first started, I got the run-down from Functional Movement Expert Michael.
He tested me and picked up weaknesses in my glutes and core, and problems with my hip stability. He gave me exercises to strengthen my weak spots. I did the exercises for a bit then stopped, because, of course, I’m lazy. And I had to face his wrath when I pulled up injured. So now I do my exercises.
Similarly, I saw Nathan at Enfer Running for my technique training when I first started (you can read about it here). But it was a bit hard to change my running style so I pretty much did my own thing after a while, and of course my injuries had me heading back to Nathan for a tune up.
Number 5 – Diet!
You think that running all those kilometres would take the weight off, but for me it did the opposite. I’ve been so bloody hungry the whole time. And because I’m a female over 30, all I have to do is look at a donut and I’ll put on weight. Over the space of ten months, I put on five kilos. Some of it is muscle (I hope), but most of it is because my metabolism went crazy, I got hungry, I justified bad food choices because I was doing so much exercise. And I got fat. I’m short, so a few extra kilos on my frame makes a huge difference, and it’s very hard to carry extra kilos for 42.2 kilometres.
Because I have the kind of husband who’s not afraid to constantly harangue me about my weight, I finally took control of myself and managed to lose a couple of kilos. And now that I’m on taper, I have to watch myself like a hawk. I’m not doing as much cardio, but I’m as hungry as ever.
Number 6 – Recover Well
I’ve been incredibly happy to have access to the recovery centre. If it wasn’t for the ice baths, the far infrared sauna and the recovery pump boots, I think I’d have gotten injured and dropped out a long time ago. When you’re training for something as big as a marathon, recovery is just as important as putting in the hard yards on your legs. Inevitably you’ll get tight, unbalanced, things will cramp up, and you’ll be on the fast track to injury.
Even something as simple as getting on the roller, and rolling out your legs after every session will make a huge difference to your body.
Fluid Health has memberships available for as little as $25 per week for a yearly membership, so you can come in whenever you’ve had a hard session and treat yourself to the contrast baths and sauna, and chill out in the recovery pump boots. If you don’t want that kind of commitment, try a mini membership – $455 for 3 months. Perfect for the lead up to that big race.
So that’s it, we’re almost there! Good luck everyone, let’s smash this mara to bits!
(Book yourself a pre-marathon prep massage, or a post-marathon flush out by clicking here)