Running column: The big day is are five lessons I’ve learned training for the Edinburgh Marathon

Mark Armstrong is running the Edinburgh Marathon this weekend. Picture: Alison Armstrong

Mark Armstrong is running the Edinburgh Marathon this weekend. Picture: Alison Armstrong - Credit: Archant

In less than 48 hours I will be on the start line for the Edinburgh Marathon – it's a scary thought.

I've not quite worked out how I'm going to get there yet but in two days all the training I've undertaken for the past few months is put to the test.

Just 26.2 miles stand between me and my goal…easy (gulp).

I've talked about the mental battle in my last column and this week I thought I'd share with you the lessons I've learned whilst training for Edinburgh.

I hope in some small way it has convinced you to get your running trainers on.

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1 Anyone can do this

Unless there is a genuine medical reason for you not to run then there is a marathon in every single one of us.

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For years I've thought running any kind of distance was beyond me. I remember on New Year's Day 2016 being worried that my knee wouldn't be able to last a Parkrun.

Fortunately it did although it was sore enough for me to actually try and get to the root of the problem.

Strengthening my quads and my glutes has helped so much and my knees hurt a lot less now than they did before I even started running.

It is absolute rubbish that running is bad for your knees. The truth is that if you have got a biomechanical problem then running will find it.

But it's then up to you to find a way around it – 99 per cent of the time there is.

2 Be prepared to make sacrifices

Running isn't easy – whatever distance you're committed to.

The difference with a marathon of course is that you've got to condition your body to run a very long way.

The only way to do that is to embark on long runs towards the latter stages of your training and get the miles in.

This takes a lot of time so it's imperative you have an understanding partner, or other kind of support network, that can pick up some of the slack whilst you're out for half the day.

On a hard training day make sure you give yourself time to recover afterwards. You don't want to be clocking up 20-odd miles in the morning and then in the afternoon trawling round the Dinosaur Park. That won't end well for anyone…

3 Learn how to fuel

This is down as a lesson but to be honest I'm no authority on this at all.

I've learned that if I'm doing anything over 10 miles then I need something other than water to get me through. Whether that's energy gels, shot blocks or a packet of crisps (some people do) you need to try and replace some of the glycogen you're expending in your muscles.

If you don't do that then you will go careering into 'the wall' – trust me, you don't want to go there.

So experiment with different energy sources on your runs, a lot of people like jelly babies, and see what works for you.

Above all that though make sure you've got enough water with you, particularly as the weather turns warmer.

4 Be at one with your foam roller

I used to be very sceptical of the foam roller but unless you can afford to have sports massages once or twice a week then they are superb at keeping you out on the road.

Tightness is inevitable in your training but a few minutes on the foam roller a day will ensure that lactic acid doesn't stick around in your muscles too long and create an issue for you.

I'm actually going to be in Edinburgh for a few days before the race and we're flying up. I started to panic when I realised I wouldn't have space to take my foam roller in my hand luggage with me.

Good old Amazon Prime came to the rescue and I'm now taking a mini foam roller.

The one drawback? It's pink.

5 Enjoy it

If you decide to train for a marathon then you have to accept there are likely to be times you wish you hadn't. I have.

But no-one has made you do it and if it does suddenly all become a bore then you must consider if you should be doing it.

When I've been out running with my wife on our long training runs she tells me to smile when it's getting particularly hard.

I won't say what I replied on one occasion as this is a family newspaper. But she's right (don't tell her).

Enjoy the challenge of running a marathon – if it was easy then everyone would do it.

Wish me luck – see you on the other side.

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