Inspiring striding - Jim Dodsworth (651 running)

Posted by Peter Goldring on


Are you running a Spring Marathon? We thought it would be great to share 10 top training tips from Jim Dodsworth (Head Coach - 651 Running - ) to help you with your preparation.

Thanks so much Jim for joining in with our blog ❤️

Regardless of your experience and capability, training for a marathon is a serious undertaking.

  1. Get the foundations right. This first tip isn’t about running. It’s about all those things around running that will help you be successful in your marathon. Try to get 8 hours sleep a night, eat well, keep hydrated and incorporate 2-3 strength or conditioning sessions into your week to help prevent injury.  The training will be hard on your body so how well you recover is crucial and these things all help with that.
  2. Consistency – Being successful in a marathon requires week upon week of consistent running. Think of a beautiful painting by one of the Old Masters. Their work is composed of layer upon layer of paint that builds up to create the whole painting. It’s the same with your training. You need to establish the foundations and then add more marathon specific work as race day approaches. Start by building your aerobic base with low intensity training miles run at an easy, conversational pace.
  3. The long run. This is the backbone of your training. The length of these should be built up gradually through your training cycle. As a rule of thumb, your last long run (c.20 miles) should be at least three weeks out from race day.
  4. Marathon pace. You probably have a goal time that you wish to achieve. Even if your aim is to finish it’s worth having an idea of the time you may achieve so you can pace yourself appropriately. It’s worth including goal pace runs into your schedule as you get closer to race day, so your body gets used to the feel at that pace. Finishing a long run with some miles at marathon pace accustoms your body to running that speed when fatigued.
  5. Hills are your friend. Regardless of the profile of your marathon, it is worth including hills as part of your training. They make you stronger both mentally and physically.
  6. Peaking. This is the final stage of your training and often referred to as the ‘taper’.  I prefer to think of it as peaking, the culmination of all your hard work. At this stage it’s about getting yourself into optimal condition for the race ahead and involves reducing your training volume and intensity in the final 2-3 weeks before the marathon.
  7. Flexibility of your plan We all have different constraints on our time, be that work, family or other commitments and you need to be able to accommodate these into your plan. Similarly, you may be unwell or get a slight niggle. Be ready to adapt your plan and switch things around where necessary.
  8. Test, test, test. It’s important that you are confident in everything on race day. Running a ½ marathon about 6 weeks out gives you the opportunity to practice your race pace as well as to test the kit you are going to wear (including the all-important happystride decision), the gels you will take, and your routine on the morning itself. The result will also allow you to re-evaluate your training paces and consider if your goal time needs to be revised.
  9. Community. Running with other people makes hard runs so much easier and the miles fly by. If you are running for a charity, many of these have dedicated training groups which create a wonderful sense of camaraderie. You could also consider joining a local running club who will almost certainly have other people doing marathon training.
  10. Fun – Regardless of your motivation for doing the marathon, the training will be hard work and take up a lot of your spare time. This is all the more reason to enjoy the journey. US Olympian Deena Kastor talks about making “choices not sacrifices” which I think is a really good way of reframing things when it gets tough. We are not obligated to do this. Running is a gift. Embrace it!

Wow, thank you so much Jim for joining us and giving us 10 top marathon training tips! Hopefully this helps you all prepare for the Spring marathon season.

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