On the 23rd of April 2017 I ran London Marathon in 4:14:40, this was my first marathon and my time was slower than I had hoped for. In the aftermath I looked back on my training, build up and the race itself and realised there were things I could do differently and hopefully room for improvement. The following are the mistakes I made and how I would do it differently if I ran another marathon.
1. I did all of my training runs alone, this meant that I didn't push myself as hard as I could have and also made long runs lonely and boring. Running can be very sociable and running in a group or with others is good fun but also encourages you to perform better and not settle into your comfort zone. Although it is good to run by yourself now and again, I would recommend joining a running club or group to help with your training and give you motivation to put the miles in.
2. I underestimated in race nutrition. My watch said that during the marathon I lost over 3000 calories, but I only took on 2 gels and 2 packets of sport beans on the way round. In hindsight I should have tested what nutrition works for me earlier in my training. I like gels and sports beans but if I ran another marathon I would probably like to take something a bit more substantial like a flapjack with me too.
3. I upped my mileage to far too soon in training. I jumped up my mileage far too quickly, eager to get the miles on my legs and keen to run as much as I could, I ran too much. This caused me to become tired and lack energy, but also caused me muscle strains as my body wasn't ready. In future I would build slowly, having a longer training plan to allow the miles to be built at a sensible rate, probably an increase in distance of around 10% per week, which should improve performance and minimise the risk of injury.
4. I neglected flexibility and core work. Although I started with good intentions, the excitement of being out on the roads running and building distance got the better of me and I ended up doing minimal flexibility and core work. This meant that my strength and movement were not as good as they could be, resulting in strains and injury niggles in the run up. Core work and flexibility is very important for running, going forward I would dedicate at least two sessions to core work and yoga, which would benefit and improve the running.
5. Lack of research in the route. I heard London was fairly flat, and as such I didn't research the route. There were some uphills and downhills and it would have been nice to have known roughly when to expect these, to know when to push slightly and when to conserve some energy. My watch also said that I ran an extra mile on the day and when you are already doing 26.2 miles, you definitely don't want to run any extra! This was caused by not sticking to the racing line, which racks up over a long distance. Next time round I would like to know the route better and follow the racing line as closely as I can.
I am now back training and trying to follow my own advice, the aim for 2018 is to do another marathon and complete it in a quicker time than I did London in 2017. I hope that by following these guidelines I will achieve my goal, and I hope that this is helpful if you are running your first marathon or race in 2018.
Put in the hard work and anything is possible... Good luck!
It was at the London Marathon Expo this year, the day before the biggest run I have ever done, that the range of ON Running shoes caught my eye. Their stand was busy and I wanted to know what the fuss was about. The interesting sole and lightweight feel was different to anything I had worn before and as I looked around the stand all of their seats were occupied with people trying them on. They are not cheap shoes, coming in at £120, but they were flying off the stand at the expo and they didn't even have my size left for me to try on. I took a few weeks off after the marathon to recover, but as thoughts of what my next challenge was going to be began to surface, I knew I wanted to try a pair of these interesting shoes that had caught my eye.
I have been running in Asics GT2000 for a while, a very popular shoe which I really enjoy running in and have always looked after me. The GT2000 weighs 312g and has a heel to toe drop of 10mm, the ON shoe weighs 220g and has a lower drop of 6mm. The lower drop encourages the runner to land further forward towards the mid or forefoot. The first couple of runs in the new shoes gave me a small ache in the Achilles and calf as my body wasn't used to how they held the foot on impact, by the third run this wasn't an issue. As well as the lower drop and lighter weight, the clouds on the bottom provide great cushioning as well as a good spring into your next stride. The fit of the shoes is perfect for me, nice and rigid at the ankle, snug across the forefoot, with the right space at the toebox. Although they are lightweight they do not compromise on support.
I was intrigued but sceptical to begin with and thought these were a light shoe that I would use primarily over 5km to 10km distance. As time has gone on and confidence in them has grown I have started to use them over longer distances, including a 17km run on road and trail today, and they felt great. The lightweight construction and lower drop is more like the characteristics of shoe an elite runner would use, and that I certainly am not, but whilst feeling cushioned, supportive and light, they also force you further forward on your foot on landing and encourage a more aggressive running style.
I won't be throwing my GT2000's in the bin just yet, but these ON Running shoes are fast and fun and I can't wait to see if they can help me achieve my goals!
“65% of the UK’s recreational sportsmen and women wear the wrong shoes for their chosen sport.”
Blisters, arch pain, ankle niggles, uncomfortable achilles, tight calf, knee pain, hip discomfort & lower back ache can all be signs that your shoes aren't doing what they should be doing for you.
Firstly, you want to select shoes that are appropriate for the activities you are taking part in. I often see people out running in football trainers and fashion shoes, these don't offer any support or cushioning and are not appropriate for running distances on hard surfaces. Running shoes have cushioned soles, designed to act as a shock absorber on impact to protect you on every stride. Depending on the distances you are doing and the protection needed, the level of cushioning in the shoe can vary.
Your gait is the manner in which your foot lands when walking and running. Depending on your gait, you need a shoe which offers the support your foot requires to keep your foot landing and pushing off as straight as possible, in turn taking the pressure off your ankles, knee's and hips. Shoes vary in the level of support from neutral, light structure, mild structure and high structure. A gait analysis will show which level of support is right for you.
The fit of the shoe is also important, it is not uncommon to go up a half or full size from your normal shoe size. This is because running shoes fit differently to other shoes. You want them to be snug across your foot, to grip the foot and allow you to benefit from the support the shoe offers. You also want a small gap at the front, normally 0.5-1cm. This allows for your feet expanding when exercising so your toes don't rub the front of the shoe, but also means that you will benefit full from the support and cushioning of the shoe, as it will be focused on the correct parts of your feet.
You may pay slightly more to get the right shoes, but in the long run it may be the best investment you make!