In a historic performance at the Berlin marathon on the 25th of September 2022, the greatest marathon runner the world has ever seen, Eliud Kipchoge, ran a marathon in two hours, one minute and nine seconds. That’s forty-two kilometers in 121 minutes. Forty-two thousand meters in 7,269 seconds. If you’re struggling to wrap your head around that, hop onto a treadmill that’s going 21km per hour and see if you can keep up that pace for 2 hours. Spoiler alert: unless you are Eliud Kipchoge (in which case, it’s an honour that you’re reading this blog, and we deeply respect you, sir), you cannot.
Though you may not be Eliud Kipchoge, you almost certainly CAN run a marathon. Seriously. We know that’s a daunting distance, but it’s a more attainable goal than you might think. Especially with the advances we’ve made in sports technology over the last two decades alone, the big number is much closer than it was when long-distance running first started growing in popularity in the late 1960s. In fact, in 2011, Fauja Singh became the oldest man to officially complete a marathon at 101 years of age.
If you’re motivated to get running, we’ve compiled 10 essential tips and tricks to get you out and, on the road, (or the Trojan treadmill) in top form!
1. Start slow
The best thing about running is that it can also be the most immediately frustrating: the more you do it, the better you’ll get at it. Though this bodes pretty well for consistently improving at the sport, it can be really frustrating as a beginner. If you’re starting from scratch, you might want to – excuse us – hit the ground running, but that’s a recipe for injury. Start at a slow pace, and you won’t tire yourself out before covering enough distance to make a difference in your fitness levels.
2. Increase your distance consistently but gradually
You’re not going to hit your distance-running goals if you work your way up to a 5km distance and keep training there. You’re also 100% going to hurt yourself if you jump from a 3km neighbourhood block circuit straight into a 20km trail sprint. Find a happy medium by gradually adding distance to your training. You should be increasing your average run distance by no more than 1.5km every week. Factor in time for recovery as your runs get longer, too. Your body’s still getting used to this!
3. Choose one day a week to do a long run
We know you’re busy. It’s 2022, and you’re an adult with stuff to do and life to live and Game of Thrones episodes you still haven’t caught up on from 2017. That’s why we understand it’s not really viable to go for long, time-consuming runs every day. It’s ok if you only fit in consistent short sessions on weekdays. We recommend setting aside a solid chunk of time once a week for a long run, though. Make sure you leave enough time to warm up, finish your distance at a comfy pace, and cool down.
4. Walking: It’s allowed.
Nobody will be mad at you if you get tired and walk. We promise. This is not high school PE, and to stay comfortable, you’re allowed to take it all at your own pace. If you keep moving by walking, your muscles will stay warm, and you’ll reap the fitness benefits of going the distance anyway. If it means you finish your route, walk whenever you need to. After a while, those walk breaks will get shorter and shorter until you eventually no longer need them.
5. Fuel your tank
Our rule of thumb is that if your run is longer than an hour, you will need to bring along an energy refill. Choose a snack packed with electrolytes and carbohydrates, but not so big that it will cause discomfort when you pick up speed. Unfortunately, an entire cake is not recommended. To keep your energy level consistent, start fueling about 30 minutes into your run and refuel again every 15 to 20 minutes
6. Mentally segment your distances
The trick to tackling a big distance is to “mind over matter” it. When you think of running 15km, that seems scary and far. When you think of running three separate 5km distances, though, that seems manageable, and maybe even kind of fun. A significant element of distance running as a sport is the mental aspect, and when you can master that, you’re halfway to cracking the big milestones.
7. Run on a looped route or a treadmill
A rookie mistake that many runners make is planning a route, running it, then ending up stranded 10kms from home, tired and hungry, needing to flag down an Uber to get back home. The best way to avoid this is to plan a route that lands you back (or close to) where you started. Another way to avoid this problem is to run on a treadmill and set the incline to 1% or 2% to simulate the wind resistance of running outdoors. You can shop a wide range of Trojan treadmills to start your indoor running journey.
8. Invest in good footwear
One of the significant benefits of running is just how low-cost it is as a sport. Unlike sports such as cycling, where you have to buy a bike, or equestrianism, where you have to feed a one-ton animal, running is low on equipment requirements. One thing that’s imperative to invest in, though, is a pair of really awesome running shoes. They can make you faster, more comfortable, and save you from injuries and tendonitis. Treat yourself to a pair of brand-new runners, but be sure to break them in long before you tackle a race. Blisters are pretty far down the list of “fun stuff we like getting.”
9. Be sure to “cut back” every few weeks
Taking rest weeks every 4-5 weeks throughout a training plan is a great strategy to avoid both mental and physical burnout. If you’re running every day for months at a time, you’re going to end up either injuring yourself or just really starting to hate running. When training for a long-distance race, schedule in recovery weeks during which your long run distance is only about 50% of what it usually is.
10. Be patient with your progress
Getting marathon fit is not going to happen overnight. This process is about consistency, patience and listening to your body as you train it to carry you over the finish line. You may hit plateaus or have a few months where you even feel like your progress is going backwards, but if you stick it out, you WILL see the results you set out to find in time.
See? All pretty straightforward, easy-to-follow advice. The word “marathon” sounds scary, but it’s actually pretty doable when you break it down into actionable behaviours, achievable training plans and gradual progress milestones. All you need to start out is the motivation to do it, and the rest will follow. A great way to motivate yourself to get running, but stay in the convenience and comfort of your home, is to invest in a treadmill from Trojan Health. Our wide range of treadmills suits all needs and budgets, so you’ll be sure to find the running solution that works for you. Shop Trojan treadmills here.