Why do people decide to run a marathon? Why would anyone try to run 42,2K as fast as they can? Everyone has different reasons. Here’s my story, what I’ve learned so far and my tips for anyone who wants to prepare for a marathon or a similar race.
How it all started
When I started my food blog a year ago, I focussed mainly on healthy food. When I decided that I needed to get back in shape, I started working out. It all fell into place. Eating healthy food and working out, it’s a formula that can’t go wrong. I kickstarted things with a personal trainer, which I met two times a week for about a month. I toned up fast and decided that I needed a new goal, something which I could work for. Something that would get me out of my comfort zone. So in September, I started running on a steady base (in stead of 6 times a year). This time, not just running for fun but also with a goal: running my first marathon on April 12th 2015. The Rotterdam Marathon.
After buying good shoes and some cool running outfits, I got my hands on two running watches to review: the Garmin Forerunner 620 and the TomTom Cardio Multisport. More about those two soon, in a different blogpost about running gear! Must say that these two really help me run better – their statistics and the apps that go with them tell you a lot about your running style & technique.
After gearing up, I just started running. First word I learned: pace – this is usually defined as a ratio of the number of minutes it takes to cover a mile or kilometer. I ran my first 8K with a pace of 5:26 (that’s 11 km/h). The Garmin told me that my cadence (amount of steps per minute) needed to be higher: about 180 a minute. The more steps you take, the less impact it has on your joints. My vertical osscilation needed to be lower. Vertical osscilation is the up and down movement of your body, the lower this is, the less impact on the joints.
Watching Youtube videos on running technique can be very helpful. Improve your running technique to prevent injury!
After watching some very helpful Youtube videos, which I’ve collected for you in a playlist here, I progressed fast. Proper technique is really important in order to run without getting injured. Basically:
- Learn to run landing on your midfoot or forefoot (watch this video)
- Make sure you have a straight forward ‘forward stride’ (watch this video)
- Run with lot’s of steps per minute (cadence, watch this video)
- Make sure your foot is landing under your hip (not in front of)
- Run up straight – watch your posture! (watch this video)
- Keep your arms close to your body in a 90 degree angle
Yes, these are a lot of things to think about. Just start with one at a time, don’t overthink it too much. The first few runs felt really awkward, but after about 4 runs I found my ‘stride’! Watch this video for more tips for starters. I would say: start working on your posture & your cadence first!
Don’t forget to stretch! Massaging, foam rolling and stretching are a recipe for muscle recovery – Huffington Post
I’ve been running for about 6 months now (from August 2014), and after training for about 2 months I ran my first 21k with a 4.58 pace. That felt really awesome. In November 2014, it all went apeshit – during a bootcamp I torn my calf muscle. I’ve been resting for 4 weeks now and my physiotherapist told me that I can slowly start picking up running again. You might understand how frustrating it is for a fitgirl to go a month without working out. It killed me!
Are you planning on running a marathon or another race? Here are my tips:
- Find yourself a BFFF. My fitbuddy Youri runs with me about 3 or 4 times a week and we will run the marathon together! It’s so much easier when you have someone to workout with. When it’s cold outside, when you don’t feel like running, when you’re feeling down – your buddy will lift you up. Also, it’s more fun and when I’m running with my fitbuddy, I get more competitive which makes me run faster/better.
- Don’t have a running buddy? Find one on Facebook (find a Dutch group here) or ask around. Maybe one of your friends wants to start running too! If you prefer running by yourself, use the right music playlist to get pumped up.
- Get your running technique straight! Work on it and improve yourself. Keep reading, learning and maybe even join a running workshop? The store Run2Day for example offers free running clinics every first wednesday of the month.
- Get yourself a new pair of running shoes that fit your feet and stride perfectly. The people at Run2Day are skilled at this. Also, order fresh new workout wear to run in on com! Protest and Nike also have really nice running tights and thermo wear (a must have for the winter).
- Download an app like Runkeeper to see how you’re progressing – or invest in a sports watch like a Garmin or go all the way and buy yourself a TomTom watch with a built in heartrate monitor (I’m testing this one right now, a review will follow)
- Find a schedule (here in some in Dutch, here some in English) that fits your goals and train about 4 times a week. First focus on K’s (every week about 15% longer runs), then focus on speed. I run about 4 times a week, preferably in the mornings (10k to 18k) then in the weekends longer runs (21K+, and more every week)
- Warm up, cool down & stretch. Here’s an handy article about how to do this and why. See a sport masseuse every month or every two months. Use a foam roller to get rid of trigger points.
- Cross train. Swim, do hot yoga, cycle, crossfit – you name it. Make your body stronger in order to get faster!
- Eat well. Don’t fear (good) carbs, they will help you run faster and more K’s. Find lot’s of recipes on my website or on Fitgirlcode!
- Please watch out for injuries. Master a good technique, stretch, warm up, cool down and tare good care of your body while playing other sports.
- No time to run or train for a race? Bullsh*t. Make time. Try to run in the morning. Set your alarm an hour earlier and get your ass out of bed! Problems getting out of bed (like me)? Watch this motivational movie. It’s the best alarm clock you can set – tt will skyrocket you out of bed.
- Smile, have fun & KICK ASS!
Find a schedule that fits your goals and train consistently every week (about 4 times) especially the last 12 weeks before the marathon. The very last week – rest as much as possible and eat your carbs. More about that here.
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