Teething Problems and Tackling Training

Dr Martin Yelling

Honeymoons, teething problems and tackling training 

Training at the moment can feel a little like the end of a honeymoon period. Perhaps your original feelings of elation on getting a place in the Virgin Money London Marathon have subsided just a touch and been replaced with the realisation that there’s some serious hunkering down to be done if you’re going to stick to this thing, rack up the miles and stay on it. The wonderful feeling of lacing up your kicks for a run and blissfully heading out to chalk up your first few walk/walk-runs/runs has worn off and perhaps training has started to feel more of a challenge.

There’s no real room for Blue Monday with your marathon build-up! You’ve got to stay on it. Consistency is the King (or Queen!) of a great marathon journey for you – whatever that may look like.

Why is consistency important?

Fitness improvements take time. You’ve probably noticed that already. You don’t suddenly feel super fit, amazingly fast, or light, strong and energetic with a few runs under your belt. It takes a few weeks of regular running for you to start to notice any real changes in how you look, feel and function when running and a few months for real marathon fitness to come to the fore. The biggest contributor to getting fitter and you starting to feel more like you can actually do this marathon is regular running. Consistent running over many weeks allows your body to adapt, change and respond. Change takes time, don’t expect speedy marathon miracles; be patient as you build up. With consistent, regular running the changes will happen and when they do they’ll be epic. You’ll feel energised, training will feel easier and you’ll be more confident about the distance challenges ahead.

Common teething problems when getting going

Doubting yourself and your ability

It’s okay to feel apprehensive about your marathon. This is perfectly normal. Understand that as you get more into your training your physical and mental confidence to go the distance in both training and on Race Day will improve. Honest! And relax.

Getting frustrated and disappointed

One sure-fire way to disappointment is to be too hard on yourself and fail to appreciate the effort that you’re putting in. Be kind to yourself, reward your efforts, however small your steps might feel, positively acknowledge that you’re ticking your runs off and moving in the right direction towards marathon day.

Progressing too fast

Progress takes time and you simply can’t hurry it up. Being over ambitious and striving too hard too soon can result in injury and backwards rather than forwards steps.

Be patient, have fun and enjoy your marathon journey

Allowing slippage and skipping workouts

It’s ok to miss a run or a workout here and there. Don’t feel guilty about it. Sometimes pressure points come along and you need to adapt, be flexible and allow some give in your schedule to focus on other priorities.  

What to focus on right now to tackle your training right

  1. Relax. Keep doing what you’re doing. The first few weeks of a training plan are all about getting into a routine, feeling in control and taking your first steps. Feel settled and balanced and keep doing this before increasing time on your feet or distance covered. Stick with it. (A little caveat here, if that’s nothing, nada, you’ve done no running then it’s time to kick yourself into action and get going).
  2. Progress gradually. If you’re following a training plan it should take you appropriately and progressively up to Race Day and increase your training at the right times. So far you’ve been building the basics and establishing what works. Your next step is to continue to challenge and stretch yourself at an appropriate level for you. Set yourself a few simple, manageable short-term targets you’d like to reach in your training before the end of January. For example, build up to X miles, continue to run X times.
  3. Look after yourself. It’s easy to overlook other important lifestyle factors such as quality sleep and healthy food choices as you try and cram runs into an already hectic lifestyle. Learn to listen to your body and interpret how you feel when running, how easy or hard it feels, what aches where and how tired (or energised) you are. Be mindful of your energy levels and reactive when you feel you need more sleep, healthier food or even a rest!