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Neil Featherby: It’s time to plan that marathon – so what is the secret to training for it?

PUBLISHED: 10:30 16 November 2018

What's the secret to training for a marathon? Picture: Archant

What's the secret to training for a marathon? Picture: Archant

Matthew Usher Photography

It is that time of year again when people come into Sportlink or send me private messages and emails asking me what is the secret to training for a marathon.

After all these years, I am now ready for it what with this being the time of year when entries have been accepted for London, Manchester, Brighton and other spring time marathons.

Don’t get me wrong it is great and I love seeing the enthusiasm and excitement on people’s faces, but first and foremost, particularly for the first timer, once the dust has settled and the reality set in, these next few months of training through the darker winter months in what could be some pretty rough conditions, is where the true test will take place never mind the 26.2 miles on the day.

I have always said that the medal placed around runners necks after finally crossing the finish line not only represents the 26.2 miles of the marathon, but the memories of all the training they have undertaken to get to the start line in the first place.

As for what is the secret…well there is no secret or indeed magic wand.

It comes down to being consistent and following a very structured plan which suits each person’s individual requirements.

So where do they get this structured plan is usually the next question, followed by I have seen on Facebook or online several beginners training plans, but I can only run on three days a week and these plans suggests that I need to do more.

Whilst a lot of the stuff online is very good and relevant, the minefield of information can also become very confusing for the novice who ends up going from one person to the next asking a multitude of confused questions or worrying that they have heard that someone else is already up to 20 miles in training when they are only up to 13 miles.

Training is all about applying specific stresses to the body whereby the stress applied is at the right level to allow for adaptation and further progression.

Too much, too soon, will inevitably end up with injury or even illness and this is where the training does become very individual.

Therefore my advice is usually to take a deep breath, be realistic as to how much training you can do based upon what you have already done and how you can further fit it into your everyday life and then be very patient whilst you build your training up very carefully.

However, and most importantly, also realise that there is a level of training which needs to be undertaken especially when it comes to running a marathon and getting the best out of each person’s ability for which it will take lots of dedication and a motivation.

This also includes those who say they just want to get round as running 26.2 miles is a long way and needs to be respected.

I do also advise seeking out a good coach or experienced runner who can work with people on a regular basis to make changes and amend any planned programme if and when required.

Needless to say each one of our local running clubs should be able to provide this service at all levels of ability for which I also recommend that the novice runner and first time marathon runner go along and seek out further advice from one of the clubs where I am sure they will come away more than pleased that they have done so.

Tonight we have the Norfolk Road Running Grand Prix Awards at The Assembly Rooms in Norwich for which I am really looking forward to it especially on the back of this being Sportlink’s first year as sponsor to this great running series.

Needless to say, we at Sportlink can’t thank the organisers of the series and all the races which are part of the Grand Prix enough for allowing us to be part of it all. Most importantly a big thank you to every single runner who have taken part in this year’s 11-race programme.

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