5 keys to preparing well for your first marathon
Brad Beer provides his five key tips to help prepare you for your first marathon at the Gold Coast Marathon.
The Gold Coast Airport Marathon is a renowned destination marathon, with its course hugging the beautiful broadwater and golden surf beaches in one of the most popular holiday locations in the world.
While many consider the Gold Coast Airport Marathon to be one of the most enjoyable weekends on the running calendar, the fun actually begins when you hit the road to the Gold Coast.
Each training session becomes an opportunity to celebrate the reasons why you love to run and a chance to soak up the euphoria running provides. It will be exciting, it will make you happy, it will reveal things about yourself that you didn’t know, but most of all, it will be fun.
Unfortunately for many, the journey to the start line is perceived simply as something you have to do in order to reach the finish line. Instead of celebrating the completion of a session or acknowledging your week-to-week progression, it’s possible to become mentally and physically fatigued. You start worrying if you’ve banked enough kilometres, you fear the possibility of an injury and you lose confidence after a bad run.
If you’re feeling this way, with less than three months until the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, it is time to bring the joy back to your running. Forget about the finish line and reignite your running passion. Reaffirm the race day goal you established when you began training and focus your energy towards enjoying every single run in the lead up to the event. Use these tips from some of the greatest running minds in Australia who know the Gold Coast Airport Marathon all too well.
Having a running buddy of a similar ability will boost your training motivation and increase the likelihood of you achieving your goal. Whether your running buddy is a friend, a member of a running club or a co-worker, sharing training sessions with another person will push you to run further and faster.
By turning your training session into a social occasion where you encourage each other, chat about topics other than running and grab a coffee afterwards to celebrate your achievements, you will be more inclined to hit the roads and trails again and again.
Brad Beer, author of amazon.com best seller ‘You Can Run Pain Free’, believes a running buddy not only provides a positive and encouraging environment but carries a sense of responsibility to turn up to training sessions.
“Having someone to do the hard yards alongside you really helps,” Brad said.
“The accountability that comes with having a running partner will make a huge difference in the quality of your preparation and ultimately the success of your goal.”
Mixing up your runs, tempos and environments are sure ways to reinvigorate your training program. Try different surfaces, locations and speeds or head to your favourite park, lake or beach. Steer clear of less aesthetic locations and don’t rule out driving or taking public transport to your starting point.
Three-time Olympian Lee Troop believes running in an area you like will keep you motivated and enable you to make the experience as enjoyable as possible.
“Run on loops you love. Don’t get caught up in times and distances. Get back to the pure joy of why we run with no restrictions,” Lee said.
Depending on your personal commitments, such as work and family, experiment running at different times of the day. You could run in the morning and start the day with a bang and enjoy the post-training bliss for the rest of your waking hours. Or, if the morning doesn’t suit, soak up the day’s final light, watch the sunset and enjoy a cool night time run.
Two-time Commonwealth Games marathon gold medalist and former marathon world record holder Rob de Castella suggests cross training as another great way to mix up your training but he stresses how important it is not to neglect running.
“If you’re sore or injured, you might need to do some pool or bike work to keep cardio fit. But you need to be strong and running makes you strong. Have easy recovery running sessions if you need to,” Rob said.
Another way to add colour to your training runs is to invest in new quality shoes and apparel that fit well and are comfortable. Your training will progress if you’re in the right gear and you’re happy wearing it.
Unfortunately, rest is often ignored in the training programs of many runners. Insufficient rest is one of the key contributing factors to the development of injury and drop in motivation due to overuse and fatigue.
Australia’s greatest female distance runner Benita Willis advises that runners should take a rest day if they’re feeling tired.
“If you feel tired at all in the preparation, don’t be afraid to have a few days off or an easy week of low mileage,” Benita said.
“Rest allows your body to absorb the training rather than getting into an overtraining hole. If anything, you should arrive on the start line slightly undertrained, so you are ready to give it your best shot.”
Pat Carroll, Australian half marathon all-comers record holder and four-time winner of the Gold Coast Airport Marathon, echoes Benita’s rest day advice.
“Recovery in training is equally as important as running itself. You need down time to allow your body to recover,” Pat said.
“When you’re sore or injured, replacing a run with a rest day or two is better than limping through a training session and risking being sidelined for weeks.
“It’s often better to be slightly underdone and injury free rather than cooked and not starting at all. Listen to your body and you’ll be thankful.”
Four-time Olympian and Commonwealth Games marathon gold medalist Steve Moneghetti agrees.
“You only have one body, so it’s good to get it moving but you also need to respect it,” Steve said.
On rest days, put running at the back of your mind and do other things that interest you. Perhaps it’s lounging on the couch watching your favourite television show, treating yourself to a massage or heading to the beach for a relaxing day with your friends and family. Find something that will refresh you mentally before your next training session.
All runners, elite and recreational, experience good and bad sessions during training programs. It’s normal. Rather than letting a bad session potentially steer your motivation off-course, acknowledge the fact that you still completed it. If you missed a session completely, it’s important not to play catch-up as this can lead to overtraining and result in injury.
2006 Gold Coast Airport Marathon winner Lee Troop suggests putting the missed run behind you and refocus your energy towards completing the next session.
“Don’t get caught up in what you missed. That can prove deadly if you overdo it and don’t recover,” Lee said.
Early bird fees finish Thursday 28 April (11:59pm AEST).
As race day approaches, it’s easy to stress about whether or not you have put enough kilometres in the bank or worry about what could happen on the day. Rob de Castella assures you that it’s fine to feel this way as it is a good sign.
“Being nervous means that you’re ready, so don’t stress. Try reading a good book or going to the movies,” Rob said.
“All the hard work is done, so just rest and look forward to the run. Believe in yourself. Running is honest. If you do the work, you get the results.”