• Helen Phillips

Get Prepared for Spring Marathon Training NOW!


You've signed up to a Spring Marathon and found a training plan that starts in the new year.

It's only autumn ... spring is such a long time away!

You've had a great 2019, ran a few races and feel good about your running. So what do you do for the rest of the year to get prepared and ready to train for next spring?

Get Prepared for Spring Marathon Training NOW!

Training and running a marathon is like nothing else. It requires organisation, strength and stamina to just reach the start line!

You want to get to race day well trained, prepared and fresh to run ... not worn out, injured and bored with training.

This time of year, if you've got your place and your plan, it's so tempting to up the volume and get training. But you really do risk training boredom and burnout if you start too soon.

My advice is for this time of the year, I've run 5 spring marathons and will be training again this spring, is to focus on some base training that'll set you up for the spring.

To run a good marathon you need stamina, endurance and mental strength (believe me, mental strength is what will get you home when your body's had enough). So right now you need to build a base that'll increase your strength and stamina, so your body is well prepared to cope with the demands of marathon training.

Here's what I'm doing this autumn to prepare myself for my spring training.

1. Speed work

Believe it or not, speed work or interval training, forms a large part of my marathon training programme.

Speed work is a great quick way of challenging your body to improve it's stamina and endurance

You can do sprint or 'fast running' intervals for 30, 60 seconds or longer followed by a walk or jog break to challenge yourself.

If you've never done this type of running before (until a few years back I was always a "run at average pace, i don't like the feeling of hard" runner!) it will feel uncomfortable and you will feel like quitting. But each interval is over in a flash and it will have a massive impact on your speed, resilience and stamina.

2. Strength work

Runners love to run and unless we're treadmill junkies (I'll tell you about my treadmill history another time) we hate the gym.

But studies have shown that strength work can have a massive impact on running endurance

So get to the gym when the weather is rubbish and pump some iron. Don't be afraid that you'll end up looking like Arnie, bodybuilders workout to extremes so it's hardly likely you're going to end up with bulging biceps!

Focus on your legs and core, but not at the expense of the rest of your body.

3. Conditioning work

Now we're inside and I've got you building up your strength with some weights how about trying some conditioning classes such as Yoga, Pilates and Barre.

I used to do these sorts of classes thinking they were just about becoming more bendy and stretching. I then read a book (whilst I was out injured for 3 months) called Yoga for Runners which told me exactly the muscles each Yoga pose was working and why it was important to me as a runner. My view of Yoga and how I approach a class has completely changed.

Yoga, as well as Pilates and Barre, are great classes for building strength in your glutes, hips and core

If you focus on the muscles being worked and squeeze them (rather than just limply hanging there looking aimless and thinking about what flavour of muffin you'll have with your post class late) you will get an amazing workout. Your heart rate will go up, you'll sweat buckets and really feel it the next day.

Get used to holding your core (sucking your bellybutton in) throughout class (and whilst running) and you'll be working some of the most important muscles for posture that are so often ignored.

Having a strong core will help your running posture and make you a more efficient and stronger runner

4. Short long runs

I've been running halves and marathons for a few years, so for me a short long run is anything from 60 - 120 minutes. In your marathon training programme you'll be challenging your body to run up to 20 miles in training (I'll explain why you don't need to run more than 20 miles in another post ... really you don't!)

But for now, I use my weekend long run to keep my endurance ticking over until training starts in January.

The purpose of a long run is to build stamina and to get your body adapted and more used to burning fat as fuel

To do this most effectively, 'the biology states' that you need to be doing your long run very slowly, at a pace that you can easily hold a conversation. It's hard! Harder than running at a faster pace! But 'the biology' won't work if you push it harder, you'll be burning less fat for fuel, not training and adapting your body for efficient endurance running and pretty much the run will be worthless (you might as well stay in bed!)

If you're not used to running slowly now's the time to practice

Start off with 60 minutes and just jog it. If it feels uncomfortable and frustrating, you're got it right!

5. Eat right

Pretty soon we'll be heading into the season of gluttony and over indulgence. I'm not going to be a party pooper, but you really do need to watch yourself during December. Christmas parties, lunches, meet ups with old friends and the neighbours, family visits, quality street, yea olde street fairs, German markets, mulled wine, gluewien, mince pies and cake are all sent to derail our good diet resolutions. And that's before we hit the big day itself!

My strategy is to enjoy, but on the days when I'm not faced with festive to maintain a balanced healthy diet with plenty of fruit and veg. I don't buy unnecessary nibbles and treats, but do love a bit of baking and the odd glass of red!

Try to balance out succumbing to seasonal temptations with a workout

But be aware that most seasonal treats would take many hours of killer exercise to burn off all the calories eaten, so don't use "I'm going out for a 30 minute run" as an excuse to eat a tub of quality street!

If you're running a spring marathon and would like some Cheesecake Runner tips for getting prepared this autumn, download my FREE Marathon Preparation Guide. Click HERE to download the guide NOW.