Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Advice addiction: stuff I collected on the internet that helped with my first marathon (Part one)

I am an advice addict. There I said it. I am addicted to reading advice on the internet. I spend too much time on the looking stuff up, to bank away in my memory disc (i.e. my mind) for later use.

So as you would imagine, running a marathon put my advice addiction into overdrive and I spent long hours researching literally everything and anything I could about how to train, what to eat, strength exercises, why my hips hurt, how horrible hitting the wall was, what books to read, waaaay too many posts about people’s first marathon – so yeah, everything.

Luckily for other people, I shall put my collected knowledge to good use by sharing it with you all.

Want to go from beginner to marathon? Use all this information to help.

PART ONE: Some handy links to get you started

FIRST the Reddit guide to running is very good, and worth a read.

Getting started – ‘Appily running
Phone apps for beginners

Couch to 5k

I never actually used this to start running, but most people seem to love it. The app uses a walk/run method to teach you how to go from zero to 5k (3.1 miles) in around two months.

Zombies, RUN!

I did use this one, and it is awesome! It’s a zombie video game that you play while you run – seriously why wouldn’t you want that?

You play Runner 5, using only your legs, you must pound the pavements to collect critical supplies and escape the clasps of hoards of zombies. The story plays out in your headphones, so you will itching to go outside again, just to see what happens.

The best part has to be the zombie chases (helping to make dreaded interval training a bit more bearable) – where you can hear the zombies closing in on you if you slow down.

Don’t get bitten, and remember when you hear zombies, RUN!


I used this, with a combination of MapMyRun, before I got my running watch. It’s your basic GPS running tracker – showing splits, times and distance etc.

There’s not much else to it, but its free and worth using!

Training – Higdon or Galloway?

The two names you will hear over and over when it comes to marathon (or other race) training are Hal Higdon and Jeff Galloway.

Who are these guys you ask?

Well they are basically running trainers (no, not like the ones on your feet), who created free (and good) training guides.

I ended up following the Hal Higdon plan, which slowly builds up your mileage each week (and includes a half marathon in the middle). It is four days a week, and you will end up doing long-ish runs mid week, with really long ones at the weekend.

He also recommends cross training the day after your long runs. He has several plans ranging from Novice to Advanced, most taking around 18 weeks for a full marathon.

Galloway’s plan is much longer at 32 weeks, and combines a run/walk strategy. It only involves running three times a week, with one additional ‘easy walk’ on Fridays.

Its up to you who you choose, but as beginner’s plans go – these two are probably the most popular out there AND they are free!

WHY does (insert body part) hurt? How do I make it stop?

Did you know your shin splints are caused by the fact your calves muscles are too tight? Have you ever heard of the IT band or the gluteus maximus muscles? What exactly is foam rolling?

All these and more can be learnt on the internet. Basically learn to stretch out those muscles, work on your core and for god’s sake rest if you need to.

This reddit wiki has a damn good guide on all those injuries and how to get them to stop hurting.

One of the best things I found was this awesome free yoga website, which has a section dedicated to yoga for runners: Do Yoga With Me.

These two videos saved me: Deep Release for the Hips, Hamstrings and Lower Back and Yoga for Runners: A Stretch Class for the IT Band.

It’s really well done, and as Brussels yoga sessions seem to be like 15 euros a time – this was a good compromise.

Foam rolling is a big foam roller (seriously, I can't describe it any other way) that you use to massage your muscles. And it works a treat, though at the time may cause intermittent swearing when trying to get those tough knots out - OW.

Get yourself some compression socks, they are magical wonderful things. Buy them now, don't look back!


Part two: STOP FREAKING out – calming advice to help you get through this

Please share your own advice in the comments!


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