Martin Yelling's Video Q&A Monday October 31
In the first of a series of live video Q&A sessions on the Virgin Money London Marathon Facebook page, top performance coach Martin Yelling fields questions on everything from injuries and nutrition to how to tackle your very first marathon.
Q: If you are a slower runner, should you train by miles or time?
A: The first thing to get across is that there is no such thing as a slower runner. Those of you doing the Virgin Money London Marathon in April 2017 have got a fantastic place in a fantastic race, and slow just doesn’t come into it. You’re running faster than all those folks on the couch, so please lets get that clear: there’s no such thing as slow.
I like to start off using time rather than distance, because when you kick off, it is really helpful to know: “Today I’m going to run 30 minutes, or 45 or less.” You’re just getting used to that time on your feet.
As that time on your feet becomes a little more established, you can then start to work in miles. For example: I’ve gone out and run 40 minutes and when I come back I see that I’ve run four miles. Then you can start to work in distance.
Q: Should I continue running through shin pain? It’s not bad but it is uncomfortable. I’m aiming for a good time and don’t want to fall behind in training
A: You’re going to get aches and pains throughout your entire marathon journey. Aches and pains and niggles and injuries kind of go hand in hand with marathon running. The key is how you manage those injuries and how you respond when you feel it coming on.
If you feel a little injury coming on, it’s ok to carry on running if it’s a little hot spot, but really tune in and listen to your body. If you’re feeling that pain on that run two or three runs in a row and it’s not going away, then it’s time to back it off and have a couple of days’ rest, perhaps two or three days with no running at all, then try gently again.
Q: Do you recommend strength training as part of a training plan?
A: It’s going to be those functional, core, conditioning exercises that are going to help you stay strong, run tall and keep your stride length – particularly in the later phases in the race when it gets really hard.
Q: I’m running the London Marathon in April 2017 - when do I have to start my training programme?
A: A specific marathon training programme doesn’t really need to start until January, so you’ve got a couple of months between now and January, but at the same time, you don’t want to start in January not ready for a marathon plan.
These next six weeks are really important. You [want to] find yourself rolling into Christmas strong and robust enough to handle whatever your marathon training plan looks like. For some that might be three runs a week, so if you’ve never run before and your first plan is three runs a week, then your goal is to get yourself – between now and Christmas – into such a position that running three times a week doesn’t feel quite so scary.
Q: Any tips on how to increase pace and cadence?
A: The best tip for increasing pace is to run a little bit quicker. That’s really difficult if you’re running for a long time, so the best way to practise running a little bit quicker is to run for less time at a higher intensity and give yourself some rest and recovery.
Imagine you’re trying to put your head in a baseball cap that’s just a couple of inches above your head, so as you’re running you’re trying to raise your hips up into that baseball cap and try and increase that pace and that rhythm and that focus as you go.
Q: Do I need to cut out booze when training for the marathon?
A: I would say no – it depends on what ‘booze’ means. If you’re sinking eight pints of Guinness of a night then you’re probably not going to feel that effective when you do your run the next day.
I would avoid regular overindulgence with the alcohol but it doesn’t mean that you can’t have a glass of wine or a drink or anything like that. It’s certainly not going to affect your run hugely.
Q: Should you run longer runs at a slower pace or run them at your expected pace on marathon day?
A: At this time, I would say run your long runs at a pace slower than you’re expecting to run on Race Day because you’re gradually building up some distance.
When you do that, you’re building up a strong foundation and aerobic system, and strong muscles and bones and tolerance to go an increasing distance. It’s ok to do that right now at a slow, easy, controlled pace.
Q: It's my first time running a marathon - should I be entering competitions such as half marathons etc along the way or just keep training?
A: If you’re nervous about running with big groups of people, entering a couple of lead-in events – such as the adidas Silverstone Half Marathon – shows you what to expect on Race Day: the tightness at the Start Line, all the people, the pace to go off at, the nerves you’re going to experience.
If you’re doing a lot of running on your own, then going to a race might be one of the only times you’re going to experience what it feels like to run with other people.
Q: Can you prepare for those last three to four miles without running a full marathon in training?
A: Absolutely. You don’t need to run a full marathon in training – save that for Race Day. We’ve got a long way to go in our marathon journey.