With all the recent buzz around the London Marathon, we caught up with Fitness Superstore Sales Advisor and Personal Trainer, Jonny. He tells us about his own training for the recent Liverpool half-marathon and his running tips…
Distance running was something I started doing in my mid-twenties when I got involved in 5K races through work – and I’ve been running weekly since! This year I took the plunge and entered the Liverpool half-marathon.
My training leading up to the race
As part of a running club – The Chorlton Runners – I usually run 10K once a week. This is great for maintaining my overall fitness and strength in my legs. I really enjoy the company too! But to get ready for the half-marathon, I upped my training from January this year. This gave me just over 3 months to get race fit. (I was actually preparing for 2 races – I was also part of the Manchester Marathon relay team, where I’d be doing an 11K leg).
From January, my weekly training looked like this:
- 2 x runs per week:
Run 1: 6 miles with the running club
Run 2: Alternated each week between an 8-10 mile run and ‘speed work’. Speed work includes fast running with slow recovery. An example would be 5 x 800 metre runs with 400 metres active recoveries in-between
- 45 minute stretch every week
- Regular massages to help with recovery
I also knew that it would make all the difference come race day if I could lose a bit of extra weight I was carrying. So to lose half a stone, I reduced my carbs, avoiding bread, rice and pasta, as well as processed foods. I replaced these with plenty of fruit and veg, as well as high-protein meat and fish.
My race plan for the Liverpool Half Marathon
I read an article written by an experienced marathon runner I know. He was talking about how a lot of marathon runners seem to hit a wall and struggle from about mile 20 onwards. (A full marathon is 26.2 miles). Amongst other fantastic suggestions, one of his ideas was to look at a marathon as a 20 mile warm up for a 6 mile race. I decided to run Liverpool half-marathon with the race plan of an 8 mile warm up for a 10K race and this worked perfectly for me.
The few extra distance runs I’d put in in training and the week’s active recovery prior to the race had left me feeling good. The first 7 miles felt easy, like I could run forever! At mile 8, I fired up my brain ready for the 10K race. At mile 10, I was feeling really good so upped the intensity again for the final 5K race in. With hindsight I would have waited till mile 11 to up the intensity, as miles 11-12 proved challenging but overall I felt really pleased with my pacing and result. It’s a very different race plan to ones I used before, but will definitely consider using it again for any longer races.
My top tips for entering a half-marathon
- Build up gradually
Take your time, both in terms of distance and frequency. If you’re new to running, I would recommend starting with no more than 3 runs per week and make sure you get those rest days. Even if you’re more advanced, it’s so important that you take time to recover. Your body will thank you for it!
- Listen to your body
Don’t ever ignore a niggle, which could develop into a full-blown injury. I also strongly recommend getting regular massages. Having a foam roller at home is a great idea too as you can ease an ache whenever you need it!
- Warm up and warm down
Warm up: Before every run, I spend 5 minutes on mobility (eg. head to toe warm up including rotating ankles, bending hips and knees, rotating joints). I find having a Bosu gym ball at home is very useful for this. I follow this up with 5-10 minutes of walking and steady joggingWarm down: Run a mile at a slower pace for recovery and spend 5 minutes stretching. I find that having an exercise mat at home is great for stretching.
- Use a treadmill too
Treadmills are a great way to complement your outdoor running.Having one at home is ideal for when you can’t train outside and the variety of programs offers great motivation.
- Run with others
Join a running club like me or run with friends. This can help with encouragement, give you some friendly competition or can simply be for company!