Former Elite Marathon runner Paul Evans gives his inside hints and tips of how to train for your first Marathon as well as improve your time on race day.
Training for the marathon
If this is your first marathon all you want to do is increase it a mile a week. It's very, very, they say don't increase your mileage more than ten percent a week and it's so easy to go out there if you've been injured or if you've been ill to try and play catch up, you actually had two weeks out so you go and play catch up, next thing is you're injured again. It's very, very slowly, Rome wasn't built in a day, it's the same with marathon running, just slowly slowly build it up.
Join a club, definitely join a club, join an athletics club, because that's where coaches are and get yourself a coach, so you get some good advice. And it's good to get running to run with people, like minded people, rather than trying to do it all on your own, it's easier to run in groups.
Recovery is very important and that's one aspect that people sit and miss out. They talk about the long runs, the tempo runs, the interval sessions, the repetitions, the hills, but people sometimes forget that recovery is part of training, you have to let your body recover.
Now speed work, everybody thinks that speed you think of Usain Bolt, but it's not, it's just running a little bit faster than your race pace. The principle of running is exactly the same for everyone whether you're trying to run two hours for a marathon or six hours. If you can run shorter distances faster, then a marathon pace will feel comfortable.
The long run
Your key session is your long run, it's time on your feet and that's the same whether you're trying to run six hours for a marathon or two hours for a marathon. It's your long run that's your most important run.
Your second key session is some sort of interval session where you run short distances but faster. Say for instance, one of my favourite sessions used to be six times a mile, with two minutes recovery and what you're trying to do it to run them all at the same speed quicker on what your marathon speed should be. The third key session is something like a tempo run, maybe go out and run between six and eight miles just under race pace. So maybe you would run at marathon pace, but over short distances and what you do as you build up to London, what you would do, or any other marathon come to that, what you would do is gradually increase your long run, so you might start off doing a sixteen mile long run and maybe increase this by a mile a week, so by the time you get to the marathon you've virtually covered the distance in training. Plus you've been doing the speed work as well and hopefully if you add it all together that gives you a good marathon performance.
Keeping it challenging
One of my favourite tricks was if I was getting close to the marathon and I was trying to up the pace a bit and I was having to go out on my own, what I would do is if I had a two hour long run to do is I'd run out for an hour and I'd stop my watch after an hour, then I'd turn around and try and get back that little bit quicker. So that would give me a challenge and it would break the monotony up and also as well during, in a race situation that's what's going to happen, the race is certainly going to wind up towards the end so you're actually trying to simulate the race as well.
The long runs, that's where it comes back to being a member of a club again, you've got other people who are doing long runs as well. So them long runs will start off because remember it is juts time on your feet, you're not trying to break the world record,you're just going out and you're timing your feet. So you can go out and it's quite a sociable thing to do, you can talk about work, what you've done the week before, so it helps to be on long runs with other athletes.