Keeping Fit in March

Some pointers to think about in your journey to the marathon or fun-run start line..

But before you do anything else, if you have any doubts about your ability to put your body under some pressure, please check with your GP that you're in a fit enough state to start training.

Once the doctor has given you the go ahead, it’s important not to overdo things and train too hard, too fast in the first few days.  Jumping straight into a rigorous training routine can be a common cause of injuries and sore muscles – it’s far better to go for a few walks and a gentle jog first.

And if you have any advice to give beginners on long-distance run training, please let us know on the form at the foot of the page...

Getting Started

  • A great starting point is to take up 30 minutes of walking or jogging four times a week.  When you feel comfortable with this, start setting yourself distance or time goals to work towards – for example, running for a mile without stopping, or running at the same pace for 20 minutes.
  • Get a running schedule sorted (running websites should have guides for you) and stick to it.
  • Organising a training buddy will help a lot, someone to keep you on track and share the pain!
  • Before you go on runs make sure you warm up, as it: increases your heart rate and gets your joints moving, increases your body temperature, diverts blood flow from your internal organs to your muscles, and can help you focus.
  • Be aware of what your body's telling you regarding hydration and nutrition. Eat and drink sensibly.
  • Buy a comfortable pair of running shoes.

During the training

  • runTry to design your schedule so you run shorter distances during the week – 3 to 5 miles and save the weekends for long runs.  If you are running a marathon the first long runs should be somewhere between 8 to 10 miles, building up to 13, then 15, then 20.
  • You should try to complete three 20 mile runs before the event; the last should be about four weeks before the race itself.  The last long run (something like 15 miles) should be two weeks before the race.
  • Then taper off your training.  Tapering is a necessary and effective part of training and is to ensure that your muscles have fully recovered in time for the race. Keep yourself ticking over but conserve more energy for the event.
  • Check your running shoes for any signs of wear. Trainers tend to last 300-500 miles, and you may be surprised at how much distance you’ve covered over the last few months.  If you do opt for a new pair, make sure you’ve run in them a few times to get used to them.

A couple of days before the event:

  • Pack your bags. Don't leave things to the last minute and waste energy panicking!
  • Cut your toe nails. Avoid any possible pain in the feet on the day.
  • Do a short run, just a couple of miles to keep you supple and interested. Otherwise, try to rest.

The day before the event:

  • Keep well hydrated. Stocking up on water is essential. If you start feeling thirsty when you're running, it's too late!
  • Eat some pasta. It's the well-tried and tested food for re-fuelling and will really help on race day.

On the day of the event:

  • Eat a light breakfast, toast and bananas are best...avoid fry-ups!
  • Make sure you've slapped on petroleum jelly to avoid your clothes chafing.
  • Make sure any safety pins holding your number aren't touching skin.
  • Take on some last-minute water.
  • Don’t forget the importance of thinking about how you will pace yourself across the race.  It is best to focus on running at an even, steady pace rather than changing up your speed throughout.  It is easy to get carried away when you are around other runners, but if you run too quickly in the first half of the run you are going to make it difficult to finish the second half, so you have a game plan!
  • It is perfectly normal to be nervous for the race but think of how far you’ve come, all the training you’ve put in and try to use any nervous feelings in a positive way to keep your focus.


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