What are the best trainers to buy?
For running, the Nike Zoom Pegasus Turbo is a hands-down winner. If you’re running in the rain, there is a Gore-Tex waterproof version. For the gym, the Nike Free X Metcon is the perfect mix of stability and mobility. There are more sturdy shoes available for heavier lifting, but for distance-running training these are great.
Speaking of distances, how far should you be running each week?
It varies week to week, and depends on the individual. Typically, I have clients do their longest run – which is 20 miles – three weeks before race-day.
What pace should you be running at?
Nine-minute miles will give you a sub-four-hour marathon. Your longer training runs should be at this pace so you learn what it feels like. However, you will need to do faster and slower runs at different intensities as part of your preparation.
Is there a good app or gadget to help track your progress?
Apple Watch Series 5 has an excellent running app that gives speed, rolling mile pace, and also tracks your health data. You can pair this with the Nike Running Club app to plan your routes.
What should you be eating and drinking during marathon training?
This is a complex subject and it varies enormously between individuals. I can say that you need to make sure you’re refuelling enough. It’s also worth saying that investing in electrolytes is useful. Also, if you’re using gels or similar, try them out on some training runs first, as they can cause an upset stomach.
How much rest do you need in between training days?
Again, this varies too much to give a blanket answer. Better to say that rest is important and that, even in your hardest weeks, you need at least one full day off per week.
How do you avoid injuries when training for a marathon?
As I mentioned, the most common injuries that occur from suddenly ramping up your running programme are overuse injuries. This is when your connective tissues (ligaments, tendons) become inflamed because they are unprepared for such repetitive activity – mechanically speaking, running is the same movement several thousand times over. Avoiding those injuries is a case of making sure you are strong to run. I often describe it as getting fit to run, not running to get fit. If we consider that running is propelling yourself from one foot to the next, that is a lot of force you have to exert into the ground - and then even more force to absorb as you land. This means strengthening the muscles involved to ensure they can cope with these demands and not rely on the elastic properties of your ligaments and tendons.
So strength training should be a part of the plan?
It’s a huge part of your training. Running involves producing force into the ground to propel you forwards, then absorbing force as your foot strikes the road on every step. And, over the course of your training and your race, you will take a lot of steps! Your strength plan should be based around the fundamental movement patterns of squat, hinge, vertical push and pull, and horizontal push and pull, as well as lunges.