A lot of people out there, including me, will be easing themselves into marathon training at the moment, and as prepared as you think you are it is always a total baptism of fire as your body, mind and motivation adapt to the mammoth challenge that you are asking it to do.
Last year was my first ever marathon and the fact that I loved it is completely obvious to any poor person who is forced to listen to me, but there were definitely a lot of down moments in the 17 week journey to the start line. All of this means I’m more prepared this year and below are five affordable purchases that will help you ease into the process of marathon training so hopefully you won’t have to learn them the hard way.
Sit on it, wriggle your bum around on it and get to those really specific aches and pains in your glutes that a foam roller can’t quite reach. These spiky balls are available at loads of places, really small and so great for travelling, and generally come in under five pounds.
2. Epsom Salts
It’s not surprise that a lovely hot bath is a great way to wind down from a physically punishing long run, but including Epsom Salts will aid your recovery as well. Making sure you spend a sufficient amount of time resting, recovering and stretching is incredibly important, and something I learned the hard way last year.
I use a brand called WestLab from whom you can buy a 1kg bag of salts for £4.99 and I would really recommend it.
3. A Diary
Write down everything that you do! This is so important because it provides a source of motivation and inspiration when morale and confidence is running low, but it also really helps you to understand how you react as an individual to certain types of training, as well as the effect of energy levels, food etc. Realising that you feel sluggish in the morning mid week means you will then know to leave a certain amount of time between waking and running before your long run at the weekend, for example.
I use my instagram account as my running diary and I love it as I receive incredible support and advice from the online community. However, if you’d like something more private than use a notebook. Either way, keep a diary – it’s astonishing looking back and seeing how far you’ve come in your runs and in your mental state. I look back at images when I know I felt low and like I couldn’t run to the end of the road, let alone a marathon, and it’s amazing knowing how much I’ve proved myself wrong.
Any keen runner knows the importance and excitement of getting the right trainers. However, far less attention is paid to the right socks. Make sure you have a pair that won’t rub or give you blisters, and that will keep you warm. I love Feetures socks for racing and during the colder months use Carnation Silver Socks.
Silver Socks are especially useful at this time of year because they keep your feet nice and warm when the weather drops and you’re splashing through muddy puddles.
5. A Run with a View
When I first started running I was so astonished that I was actually able to improve and keep running that I didn’t really care where I ran, but the more I ran the more I realised how boring pavements are and how even the most exciting routes can grow familiar. The best way to keep yourself motivated is to plan a route with lots of visual treats – I’m a country girl so this means lots of trees for me, but if you want to see the sights then that could mean a tourist route through a city – it’s whatever works for you.
However, if you can’t get yourself off the treadmill yet or if the weather is keeping you inside then download the RunSocial app. This app on your iPhone or iPad allows you to choose a route, set your speed and run with something more diverting than Hollyoaks on the treadmill. It is what Tim Peake is using to run the VMLM 2016 digitally… from space. However, it works just as well from a treadmill in Clapham. The app is free and comes with a number of routes, but if you fancy getting out into Colorado or Prague amongst many destinations then they can be unlocked for a small charge.