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My tips to prepare for running a marathon.

I’m at that age where people left, right and centre seem to be signing up to run a marathon… (I didn’t know that you’d ever done any physical activity since leaving school but waheeeey ok why not)

Running a marathon is one of those beautifully pretentious acts that allows you to feel smug forever more and to be perceived as a true hero for years to come.

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that face = eternal smugness

But before you can bask in your super fitness glory you need to prepare yourself. Big time.

Although I’ve only ran one half marathon and one full marathon (proper rookie over here.) I’m going to give my 2 cents and document my best tips for marathon preparation..

1. Don’t underestimate the distance/experience

Everyone will tell you how hard it is. Everyone will tell you how long it is. Everyone will tell you how rewarding it is when you finish. It’s all of those things; don’t believe it will be any different than that for you.

2. Know your course

Most marathons will have the course available to download with information of terrain, altitude, incline etc. Study this to prepare yourself. Practice hills if it’s a hilly course, train on the road if it’s a road race! I’ll never understand people who only run through fields and on grass before a road race. You’ll arrive on the day of the marathon and your knees will be like F you mate, you’re on your own baaaai.

Also, stalk peoples blogs to see how they’ve found the run in previous years. Their experience will be vital if it’s a smaller race with less info on their website. The better you know your course, the better you can physically and mentally prepare for it.

3. Food glorious food.

Oh the pre marathon diet. Some love the whole ‘let’s nourish my body!’ period, others loathe it and focus on everything they’re missing out on. Mate, adapting your food is honestly the most beneficial and enjoyable part of your training and you can tailor it to totally work in your favour. Carbo loading = all the pasta. You can eat pizza! You can eat chocolate! You can go out and drink. Just don’t be an idiot about it and take it too far.

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I just added more protein to my diet, totally cut out processed food and went for frequent small meals instead of fewer large ones (YES you can finally prep your meals in tupperware boxes like a top class knob). Add all the veg. Eat all the fruit and plan your meals around your training. I spent like 2 months eating non stop and still losing weight. Just lots of good food. Keep clementines in your bag, dried fruit, banana chips, whatever. Drink so much water and green tea that you spend half of your life on the loo. Happy days. A runners diet is nowhere near as bad as a bodybuilders diet.

4. track your runs

If you track your progress you can keep tabs on how you’re getting better. If you don’t keep track how do you know what’s effecting your performance? I used to have my Nike + app in my ear reeling off stats every kilometre, it’s super repetitive but I could predict my time of each run almost to the second. I then knew how new aspects threw me off or helped me along the way, e.g. a 15KM on a sunny day after a McDonalds was going to be 3 mins slower than one on an average temp day with no burger.
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5. whats your motivation?

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What’s that one thing that drags you out of bed and into your smelly trainers? What voice is telling you to turn down social plans for an evening in the gym? Why did you just casually drop £78 in NikeTown? If there’s nothing spurring you on then you’ll give up real quick, TRUSS MI DADDY. Realise your motivation early on and keep it at the forefront of your thinking. I once set a photo of a marathon medal as my phone background as a constant reminder. Very sad, I know, but bish I did not give up!

 

6. cheater cheater compulsive eater

Cheat meals and cheat weeks are the essence of life. Gurrrll (or guy) just live once in a while. Let your self slip off the bandwagon. Hell, trip over the bandwagon and break it into a million pieces. You WILL slip up. Build a bridge and quit crying. Untitled//embedr.flickr.com/assets/client-code.js

7. be consistent

That being said… try and keep your training as consistent as possible. If you like yoga on a Tuesday afternoon, go every week! If you prefer early morning runs to after work ones then stick with that. If you have a routine you’re way more likely to stick with it

8. rest and recover

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Radox muscle therapy bubble bath will be heaven sent. So will bath salts. Adopt a consistent stretching method and commit a good 20 mins to cooling down from a run. I used this one and adapted it over time to include more yoga poses.

9. rewards

Rest day is a reward in itself, don’t ever skip it because you think you’re invincible. Buying yourself a new pair of shoes after a week of solid training is totally acceptable. Buy yourself all the treats. Have a bubble bath every once in a while. Watch a tacky reality show while you work out. Rewards are yours if you put in the hard work.

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10. have fun

Believe it or not, at some point this seemed like a great idea. Maybe once upon a time you actually liked running!? I found the fun parts were the classes I went to to keep up my fitness and cooking new meals at home. I wish I’d found more running buddies with similar goals. But yeah, make it fun. I’m all about making your playlist upbeat and going to classes which you’d not normally go to because why the hell not.

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11. it’s all in your head

I don’t care if you’ve heard it before – running is 10% physical and 90% mental. This is probably the most valuable thing I’ve learnt since I started taking running seriously; your mental outlook is the most important part. If you tell yourself you’re tired, broken and can’t go on, you’ll give up! It’s cheesy and cliche but you 100% need to have a positive outlook if you stand a chance of crossing the finish line. You can train and eat right and have the most snazzy sports bra but if your heads not in the right space you will fail. So, invest in some positive thinking books or apps, tell yourself you can and will do it and keep going.  

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You got this.

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20 thoughts I’ve had since returning from Kenya

We returned from Kenya about a week agoooo and as always I’m having some reverse culture shock now I’m in little old Welwyn Garden City. It probably doesn’t help that I’ve gone to London about 6 of the 7 days that I’ve been back. Cue long escalators down to the tube (it’s surprisngly difficult get on an escalator after not being on for so long) and hoards of Christmas shoppers coming at me like an angry army.

These are some of the thoughts I’ve had since returning from Kenya;

1. language – I can’t say my normal ‘asante sana’ ‘pole’ ‘tuannai’ etc etc. I’ve had lots of weird looks as I’ve come out with ‘asanthank you’ to the guy who held the door open for me.

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2. Where has the sun gone? Seriously, it’s dark when I wake up, it’s dark when I leave for work (OK I don’t have a job yet  but you know what I mean; interviews/seeing my friends/wondering around Selfridges wishing I was rich), it’s dark when I get home. It’s practically dark by time I have my lunch. Who stole the sun? :(

3. I have so much stuff. So many resources. Why am I not doing business? How do I complain about having nothing to wear when I have so much.

4. I can wash my clothes in a machine. On the flip side, I can’t just dry my things outside for an hour or two, I actually have to wait a full day.

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5. I can have a shower with heat options and everything. To be fair, I loved our bucket showers back in Kenya but it is pretty cool to just press a button and have hot, running water. Gone are the days of heating rain water over a fire. Oh and shower gel. No more dried up soap, actual fruity, foamy shower gel. What a time to be alive!

6. I can hear about world news, not just what’s going on in East Africa. Not that great because most of the news is depressing but whatevs.

7. Everyone looks like a moody bastard. But maybe that’s not UK specific, more of a London thing.

8. Why cant I get lunch for 50 bob? Wheres the cabbage and chapati? Also, totally craving street cake and pineapple slices.

9. Sanitary adverts here are so dull. Check out Always in Africa –


10. I want to talk to every black person I see. ‘what tribe you from babes???’ ‘Habari gani huns?!’ – I must remember that not every person with brown skin wants to be my mate. Not every black person is from Kenya…

11. There is so much food in the shops. Any food you could ever want (except chapati and cabbage). I spend 40% of my time standing in the aisles like whaaaaaat should I get. Even the choice of drinks is crazy. I’m not used to having more than 2 options. So overwhelmed waaaaa.

12. And all those things cost like 10 times more than they did a week ago.

13. Christmas lights and decorations everywhere. It’s all anyone can talk about. Don’t really get the hype.

14. I have my own room and privacy and now cows outside my window waking me up at 5:30am

15. It. is. FREEZING.

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16. New music!!!! I don’t know a lot of new artists and am a bit confused why everyone’s loving Justin Bieber all of a sudden but still. New music to my eaaaars!

17. No one shouts ‘Mzungu!’ (white person) as I walk down the street?! Street kids don’t harass me (I actually miss the kids loads and loads) and I don’t have to shake hands to greet every single person I meet. Happy days.

18. There is zero choice of tacky posters to buy on the street. And that makes me sad.

19. There’s plenty of excess room on public transport. Nothing will ever compare to our squished matatu journeys home; I’m talking 22 people stuffed onto a 16 seater minibus. Having personal space is not an option.

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20. It’s just not Africa. After a combined almost 2 years in Africa since 2012 coming back to the UK just doesn’t feel like home anymore.Not sure if I’ll ever shake that feeling! sob sob.

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