Marathon Tips - Alison

Paris will be my first marathon. It's a daunting prospect. Thankfully some pretty awesome people have agreed to share their top tips with me (and you!) as I work out how to run 26.2!

This week, Alison

Training for your first marathon is a really exciting journey. I ran my first marathon in Hamburg back in 2006, and loved the whole process of transforming myself from an occasional jogger to an athlete capable of running 42km in under four hours that I immediately signed up for the same marathon the following year. Since then, I’ve run a total of five marathons and am looking forward to running Hamburg again this year. Why the fascination with Hamburg? I lived there as a student, and it’s a great city – the fish market is the perfect place to refuel post-race and enjoy some celebratory beers.

You probably already know that there is an abundance of advice for first-time marathoners out there, from training plans to kit-reviews, and it doesn’t take long to figure out what works best for you. The best piece of advice that I would like to share however is how to take care of your support team – aka friends and family, especially those of the non-running variety.

Let’s put things into perspective. Running 26.2 miles is a big deal and is likely to be a 4-6 month project that involves highs, lows and chaffed armpits – but don’t be too surprised if your friends and colleagues don’t share your excitement. Announcing your grand plan to the folk in your office is likely to be met with comments such as “Are you mad? What about your knees?” and mumbles about hoping that you’re not going to tap them for sponsorship. Don’t bore everyone with a detailed account of how you managed to pick up the pace in your last threshold session though, just play it cool and give the appearance of it all being a breeze so you can reap a ton of respect when you hobble into the office wearing your medal after the event. If you want to agonise over which energy gels to take and when to take them, find a running group or make the most of online forums where you will find a wealth of support.

Some runners chose to abstain from alcohol during their training. Great if that works from them, but I find nothing more rewarding than catching up with friends over a pint or two after my Saturday long-runs and hearing about what they’ve been up to, chatting about gigs, holidays and other non-running activities. I don’t want to put my social-life on hold during the training period, I just modify it. As I get closer to the big day, I might switch to alcohol free beer instead (Bitburger Drive is increasingly available in London and is actually pretty good). 

My husband has always been my biggest supporter of my running endeavours, and I have dragged him all over Europe for half and full marathons. He’s not a runner, so I always try to pick destinations that are interesting enough for him to want to come along. By the time I’ve completed the course, he’s usually found a decent restaurant and sussed out the bars for a few of post-race bevies. Places without stairs, of course.