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Fourteen weeks of intense training completed, over 500 miles clocked up and thousands raised for charity, this Sunday will be the moment Sportsmail's Matt Maltby has waited over three months for — the London Marathon!
Matt, 25, has completed a gruelling 14-week training programme, which included taking part in several wide-ranging Lucozade Sport sessions and running The Big Half (half marathon) around London last month in preparation for this weekend's famous race.
So, how on earth do you prepare for this iconic event around the capital? Here's a week-by-week guide with tips and advice from both beginners and professionals.
Matt Maltby completed the half marathon around the capital in 1:31:31, beating his 1:35 target
Sportsmail's journalist pictured running in Prague (left) and at London's The Big Half (right)
Sportsmail journalist is preparing to join Mo Farah and Co for this weekend's London Marathon
TOP TRAINING TIPS
- Find a running plan that suits you. I found Bupa's online ones (I combined the two) perfect and easy to stick to.
- Train with your gels and other sports nutrition products you plan on using on the day. I used Lucozade Sports gels and their superb jelly beans.
- Run the marathon distance (26 miles, 41.84km) over the course of a week.
- Sunday is the day for longer runs. I started on 40 minutes and increased this every week.
- Never run a marathon in training. I decided my longest one would be 18-21 miles. I did this three weeks before the London Marathon.
- Mix up your routes to make the longer run a bit more enjoyable. I found taking in the London sights made it exciting, and also prevented me from getting complacent by knowing the route well.
- Listen to audio books. Music playlists are good, but I feel they get repetitive - and you know you're running often when you guess the next song to come on! Audio books were fun, engaging and kept me occupied.
- Download an app to log your runs. I initially used Nike's before switching to Strava, which I found better.
- Stick to a healthy diet. I didn't make huge changes, but tried to cut out sugary snacks, kept alcohol intake to a minimum and consumed more pasta.
MY RUNNING BACKGROUND
With basic levels of fitness prior to running this famous 26-mile race (I've always chosen cardio over weight-based training), I opted to take this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity very seriously and was willing to make sacrifices to run a good time.
I had never ran a marathon — or a long-distance race for that matter — prior to confirming my London place in early January thanks to Lucozade Sport, the official sports nutrition partner of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018. But I have always thought I'd do OK in one, and have been regularly running 5-10km since last May.
Not to sound arrogant but I felt I could run 26 miles without training — albeit at a slow pace — so I wanted to push my body as far as it could go, and ultimately achieve an ambitious time in what I plan will be the only marathon I'll ever run! My pace has always been consistent (I put that down to long legs and being mentally motivated to push myself to my limits) so I felt it was realistic.
Obviously running such a distance is a great way to raise money for charity, too. For those who know me, clumsiness and a lack of co-ordination (I failed my driving test six times!) are certainly two of my stronger attributes. Having grown up with dyspraxia, I wanted to raise a little a bit of awareness for The Dyspraxia Foundation and contribute to a cause I feel passionate about.
Willing to crack on and fully commit to a gruelling training programme for the first time in my life, I went about researching a plan I felt I could stick to. I found Bupa's advice and the London Marathon plan were both useful, but the former perhaps suited my ambitions slightly better — and was better on the eye, so the info was more digestible.
The idea was to run at least 26 miles (41.84km) every week, with the Sunday run the biggest of them all. It was going to be no easy achievement, considering it was rare I'd go a weekend without the odd beer or two!
Here's how I got on...
Matt has completed a gruelling 14-week training programme in preparation for the event
The London Marathon, which gets underway this Sunday, will test Matt physically and mentally
After signing up with Lucozade Sport, he decided to raise funds for The Dyspraxia Foundation
LUCOZADE SPORT APP
Matt is running as part of team Lucozade Sport – the official sports nutrition partner of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018. Get rewarded for your running with the Lucozade Sport Made to Move App, free for iOS and Android. For my information, visit: www.lucozadesport.com
I felt good going into this maiden week of marathon training. I had my plan and was ready to hit the ground running. I was perhaps too keen, and felt very fragile on the Friday after doing an intense all-body circuit workout on the Thursday. But knowing my body would have to get used to pain, I pushed myself to get a quick early-afternoon run in.
It was, however, frustrating to endure issues with my app (perhaps it was karma for trying to take a mid-run picture), which meant my full first Sunday run wasn't fully recorded — but I can't have too many complaints with this opening week.
Distance ran: Four runs (Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) = 41.32km (25.6 miles)
Sunday Target: 7 miles Run length: 10.08km (6.26miles) = 52.12 mins — App paused mid workout
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: The Friday run. After doing an all-body circuit workout on the Thursday, my body was certainly feeling the pain. But my new-found mentality was to push my body to its limits, so felt I had no choice but to run.
Other workouts: All-body circuit workout in the gym (Thursday).
My runs during the first week (L), which ended with a 10km run lasting just over 50 minutes (R)
MATT'S AVERAGE DIET
Breakfast: Porridge (made with water), topped with banana and peanut butter
Lunch: Pasta (with chopped tomatoes as a sauce), and usually meat and veg including pepper and courgette.
Dinner: Rice and meat (usually chicken). Would have the odd baked sweet potato, too.
Snacks: Rice cakes with peanut butter, the odd packet of popcorn.
What's not to love about resting on a Monday? My previous training mentality was to be intent on starting the week off with a session – otherwise I'd get off to a lethargic start and be more inclined to be lazy. But this new programme meant it was imperative to rest and, after doing a longish run on Sunday, I felt I needed it too.
The Sunday target was to complete 55 minutes of running, and I did my usual route but took a few early turns to add to the distance. I initially found running in familiar surroundings while gradually increasing the distance helped. There's nothing worse than running in unfamiliar territory and not running enough – or running too far!
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday Thursday and Sunday) = 44.37km (27.57 miles)
Sunday Target: 8 miles Run length: 12.21km (7.6 miles) = 55.49mins
Difficulty rating: 3/5
Hardest moment of the week: The Sunday run. Having had a big night out for a friend's leaving drinks on the Friday, and then a busy day at work, motivation for a long 55-minute run wasn't high...
Other workouts: Arms workout (Monday), one hour bike workout in the gym (Friday).
I got another four runs under my belt in the second week (L) while progressing on Sunday
I chose a familiar route for my long run but increased distance which led me to Albert Bridge
CHIROPRACTOR'S TOP TIPS
Dr Christian Allard, Clinic Director of ProBack, says:
Watch your technique
Running with your heels hitting the floor first creates more opportunity for injury as your heel bone itself does not absorb impact well. Instead try to lead with the balls of your feet when in mid air and when making contact with the ground. Follow this by bending the ankles.
Celadrin is great for joint health as it helps lubricate the cell membranes that cushion the bones and joints. Likewise L-Glutamine helps fuel muscles and can resist them from becoming sore during exercise.
Follow your heart rate
The most basic way to calculate your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220. This is the absolute maximum that your heart should be beating during exercise. On this note, it's important to remember that this is a marathon - not a race. Slow and steady is the best approach and don't go off too quickly.
I was in no doubt that this was going to be the trickiest week so far. I was on day shifts for the first time since starting training, which meant running either at lunch or after work. Having previously had the luxury of running a few hours after waking up, this week was always going to be a wake-up call.
The longer I got into my training, the more I realised how vital rest days are. I guess the first week I was perhaps too motivated (if that's even possible?) but by this week, I had decided to do no more than five workouts a week — recovery is key!
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) = 50.63km (31.46 miles)
Sunday Target: 10 miles Run length: 17.22km (10.7 miles) = 1.19.51mins
Difficulty rating: 3/5
Hardest moment of the week: Motivating myself for the Sunday run. Obviously it's always going to be the trickiest part of the week, but after a busy nine-hour day at work, a 15km run (I ended up running further) was the last thing I fancied doing.
Other workouts: None.
I managed to run over 50km in week three, including a 17km Sunday run after working all day
After beginning my training in a pair of standard Nike trainers, I got my hands on this pair of Asics Gel Nimbus 20 a few weeks into my plan - and LOVE them. I felt the difference straight away, they're so comfy and provide great support for the whole foot. I'd definitely recommend investing in a good pair of running trainers, and these Asics have more than done the job. Have enjoyed running in them so much I'm going to invest in a new pair post-marathon.
Having bulked up the runs in the opening three weeks, I'd decided to try and do a minimum of three midweek runs of at least 10km each, plus my Sunday run. Aware that I shouldn't push myself too hard though, I'd essentially play these runs by ear depending on how my legs felt — and how I felt mentally.
A game-changing technology decision was made, too. A friend told me about the Strava app, so I'd decided to give this a go on the Sunday run and was really impressed. It allowed me to analyse runs more than Nike's version, and the breakdown of the splits (every 1km) helped me to study where I lacked pace.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday) = 55.66km (34.58 miles)
Sunday Target: 12 miles Run length: 20.5km (12.7 miles) = 1.31.13mins
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: Laying off the beers and being sociable... I had plenty of things lined up this week and too much beer was consumed, which meant I felt I had no choice but to up the ante on the big run. It was by no means easy — in fact it was the hardest run I've ever done — but I was chuffed with the distance and pace.
Other workouts: Arms and chest workout in the gym (Friday).
My three midweek runs (left) and pictured (right) after my long 12.41km run on the Thursday
A friend told me about the Strava app, so I'd decided to give this a go on the Sunday run
TRAINING IN FREEZING TEMPERATURES
Dr Daniel Fenton, Medical Director from London Doctors Clinic, says:
Vitamin D is key
I would ensure that you keep your Vitamin D topped up, especially in winter, as the lack of sunshine interferes with Vitamin D metabolism.
Watch your diet
Zinc is crucial for normal development and function of cells helping with immune response. Top this up by adding Zinc rich, beef, nuts, seeds and beans into the diet.
Hit the gym
Getting used to running in both cold and warm temperatures, in and outdoors will help your body to acclimatise to varying conditions. That is why professional athletes purposely train in different countries at different altitudes and terrains.
Go for shorter, faster runs
Long distance runners generally have a greater proportion of slow twitch muscle fibres, which are great for endurance racing, but won't help greatly for that final burst of speed needed to beat your PB on race day.
This week was one I'd been dreading since signing up. A long weekend to Prague had been pencilled in for a while but I knew there was no excuses to slack, despite the alcohol and food (my two favourite things) I planned to consume while abroad!
A friend joined me on Wednesday, and I slowed my pace down on this run while adding in short sprints. I was also pleased to be able to add in two long ones while away — including reaching the 14-mile mark on my fifth Sunday run.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday) = 53.2km (33 miles)
Sunday Target: 13 miles Run length: 22.5km (14 miles) = 1.43.32mins
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: Keeping up my regime while wanting to enjoy my Prague trip as much as possible. Both runs were done after heavy(ish) nights — so it was pleasing to be able to get them out the way. Sunday was tricky, and I was beginning to realise how much of a mental battle this marathon is going to be.
Other workouts: None.
This week proved to be tricky, as Thursday-Sunday was spent in Prague for a weekend break
Sunday was tricky, and I realised how much of a mental battle this marathon is going to be
There was bound to be a week where I sustained a minor injury, and it arrived on this Wednesday when after 10km, I felt a twinge in my left hamstring. Having never had a feeling like it before, I immediately finished my run and opted to get the bus home!
I felt OK on the Thursday and opted for a gentle run with short sprints. Having done a bit of research this week, I thought it'd be good to add different workouts alongside the four runs so did an hour swim, too.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday) = 53.6km (33.3 miles)
Sunday Target: 14 miles Run length: 23.5km (14.6 miles) = 1.45.28mins
Difficulty rating: 5/5
Hardest moment of the week: Sunday was where I encountered the HARDEST run of my life. Despite the good pace and distance, this was mentally the toughest thing I've done. My legs went from 12km onwards but somehow I managed to get myself to 23.5km, and home.
Other workouts: Arms workout and Swimming (Friday).
The Sunday run in Week Six proved to be my biggest challenge yet, with my legs cramping up
Supplements like Lucozade Sport's isotonic drinks and energy gels aided my training regime
FUELLING UP THE DAY BEFORE THE MARATHON
I met with Lucozade Sport sports scientists Ieva Laurie and Kat Shaw this week, where I learnt the best way to prepare for a race and how to stay refuelled.
- Eat a meal you enjoy and are used to.
- Rich in carbohydrates — pasta, rice, bread, potatoes.
- Avoid spicy and high fibre foods.
- Stay well hydrated.
- Ensure glycogen stores are stocked up ready for race day, reducing risk of fatigue during the race.
Lucozade Sport sports scientist Ieva Laurie speaks during session on race preparation
With my half marathon approaching, I wanted to use this week to ramp up the mileage over the week. Mission accomplished, with four runs of at least 10km completed plus a long one on Sunday — albeit shorter than the previous week. I managed to clock up over 70km overall, which wasn't the plan but obviously pleasing given my legs ached for most of the week!
This was also the week I'd set myself another challenge, one that was going to be just as hard as the training - it was the first of four without my favourite tipple(s). I'd made a decision to have one night off in Week 11 but would otherwise have no alcoholic drinks for the final two months. I have to say I was chuffed to get through the first week, having been out on three nights where friends were on the juice.
Distance ran: Five runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday) = 70.2km (43.6 miles)
Sunday Target: 15 miles Run length: 21.6km (13.4 miles) = 1.39.28mins
Difficulty rating: 3/5
Hardest moment of the week: Treadmill run on Tuesday. I didn't have much motivation to run outside so thought it was worth getting 10km in at the gym. But I didn't enjoy it at all and found myself getting bored after five minutes. Never again.
Other workouts: Arms workout on Monday, Thursday and Friday.
I ran on the treadmill (L) while also finding motivation to run for an hour day the after (R)
I completed a long one on Sunday — albeit shorter than the previous week — on a new route
WHY RUNNING A PRACTICE HALF MARATHON HELPS...
- It's a great way to experience a race-day event, and should hopefully reduce the nerves on the big day.
- You can practise your race-day routine, including what time to wake up, and fuel your body. You'll also get to grips with how the baggage-drop works - this can be stressful!
- Learn how to pace yourself. It's a whole new ball game when you're running competitively, so shorter events gives you a chance to practise.
- Helps you deal with the crowd and realise how they spur you on.
- Gives you taste of how fulfilling it is to see your hard work pay off. I guess it'll be double the feeling when you finish the London Marathon?
My average pace at The Big Half event
What a huge week this was for my training, so you can imagine my thoughts when the Beast from the East came to say hello... what a nightmare! I managed to get three lunchtime runs in around Hyde Park but it wasn't exactly enjoyable, with the cold, snow, slush, ice and wind all providing different barriers to overcome.
There were also doubts that The Big Half would go ahead but it was confirmed early Saturday afternoon (after I had got a 9km run under my belt) that it was going ahead – and what a day it turned out to be. I officially finished in 1:31:31, beating my target of 1:35 and it gave me an insight into what to expect for the London Marathon.
Distance ran: Five runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, Sunday) = 60.7km (37.7 miles)
Sunday Target: 10km race (Half Marathon day) Run length: 21.2km (13.1 miles) = 1.31.71mins
Difficulty rating: 5/5
Hardest moment of the week: The final 500 metres of the half marathon. The whole experience was a mental challenge but the final hurdle was an emotional one, no doubt about it. The realisation of only progressing 300m despite feeling like I'd ran about five minutes almost took its toll.
Other workouts: None.
Finishing The Big Half gave me an insight into what to expect for the London Marathon
It was such a rewarding feeling to get hold of the medal, especially as the last 2km was difficult
OFFICIAL VIRGIN MONEY LONDON MARATHON APP
The 2018 mobile app developed by TCS, the Official Technology Partner for the Virgin Money London Marathon for the third year, includes all the features both runners and spectators need to become fully immersed into the world's most popular marathon.
One of the most prominent features of the app is the in-built tracking system.
Connecting participant and supporters, it allows spectators to locate their favourite runners and keep up-to-date with their progress by auto-tracking athletes both throughout the race and via push notifications of their finish times.
My body was certainty feeling the effects of the half marathon this week and on Monday, I could barely walk. But the feeling of self achievement was a welcome boost at a difficult time in training, with the big miles still to come.
Running wise, I managed to squeeze in important miles on my lunch breaks but felt a slight twinge in my calf on Thursday, so I decided against pounding any more pavements until the big run. I also worked on my strength in the gym, so spent four days doing chest and leg workouts.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday) = 58.3km (36.2 miles)
Sunday Target: 18 miles Run length: 30.6km (19 miles) = 2.22.25mins
Difficulty rating: 5/5
Hardest moment of the week: When the reality of running too far around Richmond Park hit me. I worked out a route which involved running 10km to the park, running 10km around it and then running home.
But, somehow, I got my bearings wrong and ended up running 19km around the park, which meant when I got to 30km I was still nowhere near home... The bus came to the rescue – and I still clocked one mile more than I needed to.
Other workouts: Arm, chest and leg workouts (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday), gym cycle and cross trainer (Friday, both for 30 mins).
Sunday's run was my biggest ever, with 19 miles in the tank in just over two hours, 22 minutes
HOW TO MENTALLY PREPARE
Kata Armitage, founder of KataCalms, is a life coach specialising in relaxation therapy that combines reiki and hypnotic techniques that help re-pattern thoughts for better sleep, less stress and a more positive outlook. Here are her tips:
1) Breathe. Remember that as little as one minute of focused deep breathing changes your physiology and allows you to enter a calm and relaxed state.
2) Remind yourself that you've done enough, you're ready and that your body, the human body is amazing.
3) Try to focus less on the things that you can't control, like the weather, and more on the things that you've already achieved and can be really proud of.
4) Try to change your language, your inner script. You can decide how you want to feel. For example, why can't nervousness actually be excitement? Check in with your body with positive reinforcements, tell yourself you feel good, your body feeling good and that will help you get in the zone.
5) Visualisation. Visualising or imagining something happening fires up the same neurons as when we're actually experiencing it. So whether that's how good you will feel after the event or how nice that first pint might taste, visualise that moment and allow the sensations associated with that to wash over you.
I was beginning to get a bit bored of my routes so thought I'd research new ones, and to my delight realised that Westminster wasn't too far from my Clapham base. Discovering new areas made my training more enjoyable, especially on longer ones.
I was on night shifts again, which allowed me to get the runs in before work. I had a bit of a nightmare on the long run when I slipped on slushy snow (the weather, eh?) and had to run the remaining 22+km with bleeding hands... I also attempted another route, which included a few wrong turns but you've got to make mistakes to learn from them, right?
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday) = 66.1km (41 miles)
Sunday Target: 15 miles Run length: 27.8km (17 miles) = 2.05.43 mins
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: Falling over. The annoying weather had once again returned, although London wasn't too bad this time round. However after running towards a cyclist, I moved my feet a bit too quick for my own good and the next thing I knew I was on the floor! I got back up just as quick and was on my way, but it wasn't ideal with sore hands and a headache.
Other workouts: Arms (Friday)
I was beginning to get slightly bored of my routes so found a new one around central London
Despite the snow returning to London this week, I managed to do a 17-mile run at a good pace
The four-week alcohol ban was dropped this week, with a university reunion planned on the Monday. I surprisingly didn't feel too bad the day after, although I started to feel it at the Lucozade Sport sprint-training session on Tuesday night. This session worked on pace and included between eight and 10 400m sprints at full throttle with a rest of a minute.
Having started to train in miles, I wanted to up the mileage this week. I managed over 22 miles in two midweek runs while the long weekend run had to be moved to the Saturday as I was up at 4am for my Sunday shift.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday) = 66.3km (41.2 miles)
Sunday Target: 17 miles Run length: 29.4km (18.2 miles) = 2.15.55mins
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: The Saturday run. I had a bit of a late one on Friday and having been used to running on Sunday, I guess mentally I had no motivation to run on my Saturday off. With the longer runs, I'd also found the first half was the hardest so once I got that out of the way, and got used to the achy muscles, it wasn't so bad.
Other workouts: Sprint workouts (Tuesday), Arms (Friday)
This week saw me take part in a Lucozade Sport session, where we worked on sprinting
With a jam-packed Sunday planned, I was forced to move my long weekend run to Saturday
WOMEN BETTER AT PACING THEMSELVES THAN MEN
Strava, the social network for athletes, have shared some key insights ahead of this London Marathon:
- Strava reveals new insights from 10,706 runners who completed 2017 London Marathon
- Women found to be significantly better than men at pacing, data shows
- Older runners better than young at pacing - best pacers found to be women over 60
- Runners hit 'the wall' during Mile 25, slowest mile of the 2017 London Marathon
- 51-60 year olds were the most committed age group in training (371 miles over 13 weeks pre-marathon), 21-30 year olds were the least committed in training (311 miles over 13 weeks pre-marathon = over 16% less)
- Average finisher would only be at mile 14 when the winners cross the line
Crunch time. Entering the final four weeks of training, this was going to be the first of two weeks of hardcore training before I began the tapering process. I got the miles in early doors but injured my calf after the third run of the week, which meant the long run was touch and go.
Fortunately I felt OK on the Saturday and was delighted to get 21 miles in the tank, although the injured calf felt dodgy at times. This was a huge eye opener and made me realise how far the actual marathon will be... having said that, it was also a massive boost to be able to last that long at a reasonably quick pace.
Distance ran: Four runs (Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday) = 71.8km (44.6 miles)
Sunday Target: 20 miles Run length: 34km (21.1 miles ) = 2.31.12mins
Difficulty rating: 5/5
Hardest moment of the week: Deciding whether to risk the injured calf. Having put in 11 weeks of tough training and preparing for the mental battle of the longest run of training, I wanted to run but didn't want to risk further injury with just three weeks until the marathon. I've learned a lot about my body during this process and it felt right to run — and fortunately it paid off.
Other workouts: Arm and chest workout (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday), Swimming (Friday)
I continued to mix up routes and found it more enjoyable running near famous London sights
I managed to reach the 21-mile mark this week and was absolutely delighted with this pace
Having accomplished a 21-miler the weekend before, my legs were still feeling the pain this week — my final one of hardcore training. Most training plans suggested to begin the tapering process now but I thought I'd push it, and instead clocked in the highest weekly mileage of my training.
It was beginning to dawn on me that I was approaching the end of my training, and I guess I wanted to give it my all before reducing the workload. The plan for the long run was to do between 15-18 miles but I decided mid-workout to increase this to 21, and I was delighted to see post-run that my pace was quicker than usual.
Distance ran: Four runs (Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday) = 84.8km (52.7 miles)
Sunday Target: 15 miles Run length: 33.8km (21 miles) = 2.28.32mins
Difficulty rating: 4/5
Hardest moment of the week: Motivating myself for one final long run. Sunday was a miserable one weather-wise, and I was also due to work a 6pm-2am evening shift having done the previous two nights. As I found throughout my training, once I got out on the road it wasn't too bad and the motivation somehow reappeared.
Other workouts: Arm and chest workout (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
The target was between 15-18 miles but I thought I'd increase to 21 before the tapering process
MY TEST RESULTS AT THE RUNNING MOT?
- Emily Drakes checked my flexibility and strength, and the flexibility of my ankles and hips were good and equal. My hamstrings and quadriceps are tight bilaterally..
- My plyometric ability (springiness!) is good with a hop distance being 160cm bilaterally.
- My single leg squat is well controlled on both sides.
- My barefoot balance is slightly worse on the left which can lead to more work for the calf.
- My left calf fatigues quicker than the right when doing single leg raises.
For more information about the Running MOT at The Shard, visit: www.londonbridgephysiotherapy.co.uk/services-outpatient/running_mot
It's taper time. Entering the penultimate week of training meant I had no excuse but to begin reducing my running. The plan was to do 3-4 runs this week with a day's rest in between – making sure my body was able to recover as much as possible. I attempted a run on the Tuesday and my legs were absolute agony from the 21-miler which made the 5-mile run one of the worst I've endured. I was also still suffering from a dodgy calf, which was constantly on my mind as the big day got closer. Not ideal at all.
But then Lucozade Sport stepped in to put on a superb session at the perfect time. With just 11 days until the marathon, I met with Danny Bent and Kata Armitage for an impassioned talk on mental preparation. It was hugely inspiring to hear their stories, and learn how best to prepare for such a big moment in my life. Danny had a more hands-on approach and was full of enthusiasm (something I can perhaps relate to) while Kata's focus on relaxation therapy was something I'd never come across before, so found it very interesting and insightful. It provided me with much-needed last-minute motivation, seeing as the mental battle of reducing my training after such an intense 13 weeks was proving tricky. A refreshed Matt means a happy Matt.
It's safe to say this week was certainly a busy one. I also visited the Running MOT Clinic at The Shard, which was another hugely enlightening process. Emily Drakes, Outpatient Lead Physiotherapist from the Running MOT Clinic at HCA at The Shard, part of HCA UK, ran me through the various ways of improving my running and recovery. This was very eye-opening, with Emily highlighting the importance of stretching, resting, how to change running technique for the better and how to loosen up my muscles.
Distance ran: Three runs (Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday) = 33.6km (22.1 miles)
Sunday Target: 10 miles Run length: 18.5km (11.4 miles) = 1.20.52mins
Difficulty rating: 3/5
Hardest moment of the week: Tapering. Having put in 13 weeks of hard graft, I found it really hard to reduce the workload. You feel like you're undoing all the work you've put in. But it's important to understand how your body works, and one thing it needs is rest. I have to say my whole body aches going into this last week, so I'm now ready to put my feet up, eat plenty of pasta and make sure I'm in tip-top condition.
Other workouts: Swimming - 70 lengths (Friday), Arm workout (Wednesday, Thursday, Friday)
I also visited the Running MOT Clinic at The Shard, which was a hugely enlightening process
The final Sunday run before the marathon was just an 11-mile workout to keep the legs fresh
WHAT I ACHIEVED?
Weeks of training: 14
Miles ran: 504.7
Outside runs: 58
Jelly beans consumed: Too many
So, what about the 15th and final week?
This week will be all about tapering. I don't plan on doing any more than three short runs at a very slow pace (around eight minutes per mile), just to keep myself ticking over. I'll begin to up my carb intake on Thursday and Friday, the same day I will do my very last run before the small matter of the London Marathon.
Wish me luck...
Matt is running as part of team Lucozade Sport — the official sports nutrition partner of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018. Get rewarded for your running with the Lucozade Sport Made to Move App, free for iOS and Android. For my information, visit: >www.lucozadesport.com
TOP FIVE TIPS AHEAD OF RACE DAY FROM ONE OF THE UK'S HAPPIEST PEOPLE
Danny Bent — former triathlete, Guinness World Record holder and award-winning author — was voted one of the 100 happiest people in the UK, and one of the 50 most inspirational people in London.
He was speaking at a Lucozade Sport event on the benefits of mental strength and preparation. Lucozade Sport is the official sports nutrition partner of the Virgin Money London Marathon 2018.
1. Face Your Fears
There will be a huge amount of mental barriers coming to the forefront of your mind in the days leading up to the race. Voices in your head will lead to stress and anxiety about what's to come. It's important to confront these and step through these barriers in advance of getting to the start line – you've made it this far; you've already overcome so many barriers in training and along the way – you've got this.
2. There's Always a Positive
No matter what happens in your race, focus on the positives. Turn the situation around – whatever it may be. How about turning the physical symptoms of nerves into feelings of excitement? Slow pace at the start line? The crowds will disperse within the first couple of miles. Weather not what it was in training? No matter – it's out of your hands. Visualise at the start how you want to see yourself crossing that line.
3. Help People
This one is for race day itself but can't hurt in those final days in the lead-up too. Remember those around you – you're all on the same journey so support them, share the positivity and encouragement; you know you'll be needing it and so will they.
4. Be in the Now
This is one of the most important – remember you took this on to challenge yourself, but also to enjoy it! You wanted to run, you wanted this place – relish the experience and on the day itself, set out to have a ball; take in your surroundings, lap up the cheers and high-five those spectators. You're privileged to be in this position, so make the most of it.
5. Find Your Tribe
You'll be seeing the same faces around you in the race, mile after mile. They're part of your team, your tribe - let alone the other 39,999 runners taking part! Share the support and enjoy your moment – you're part of something pretty special…
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Source : http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-5614019/London-Marathon-rookies-gruelling-14-week-training-diary.html