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8 Tips for running a marathon

While I am really fit, I’ve never been into running. In fact, I loath doing cardio and the thought of running a race had never really crossed my mind… until Nike challenged me to run the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon. While running has never been my ‘thing’ I just couldn’t say no to a challenge (I’m VERY competitive you see). So, I decided I was going to force myself to lace up my running shoes and get moving.

These are my 8 tips for beginners running a 10km:

1 Invest in a training app

There are loads of training apps out there, but I decided to download Nike+ running app to help me set goals and track my progress. The app helped me to keep track of my pace and save my runs. Best of all, I could zone out while listening to my favourite tunes while the app ran in the background. Trust me, seeing your progress on the app is incredibly motivating! Added bonus? It keeps track of how many kilojoules you’ve burned too.

2 Invest in good shoes

You can’t just run in any old shoes! If you really want to maximise your training (and speed) you need to think carefully about which shoes you run in. My best advice is to go for a gait analysis. This will help you determine which shoes best fit your particular gait and running style. For example, I tend to run on my toes and I don’t have a high arch so I wear a ‘neutral’ running shoe for training.

3 Don’t run more than a few times a week

Running CAN be hard on your body (it’s an impact sport after all) so you definitely need to give yourself time in between runs to recover. This however doesn’t mean that you can’t complement your running with other forms of exercise. Besides running on the Sea Point Promenade I also go for light walks and do yoga, pilates, HIIT and strength training at the gym.

4 You don’t have to go fast! 

The best tip my fiancé gave me (he’s a runner) and the one that has made the biggest impact on my running, was this: Set yourself small goal distances you want to run and choose a pace at which you can comfortably run the entire distance without stopping. It doesn’t matter how slow or fast you run toward your goal. The whole point is that you need to keep running. And if you get tired? Don’t stop. Either slow your pace down or speed walk to catch your breath.

5 Increase your split time

When I realised I could run 7km without stopping once, I knew I could easily run 10km. And once I reached 10km I knew I could probably run it faster. The next challenge is to slowly increase your pace. Every few runs, once I got used to my new pace, I would try and take about 5-10 seconds off my average pace per km. Soon I was running 5km in under 20 minutes.

6 Stretch it out

Stretching is SO important! I try and stretch daily – even on days I don’t run. 10-15 minutes is all you really need (you can even do it in front of the TV). This will help you prevent any injuries and help you with muscle soreness and fatigue. To really show those knots who is boss I suggest buying a foam roller and a resistance band ( Mr.Price Sport has some well-priced options)

7 Incorporate some strength training

Yes, that means weights, push-ups and squats. Despite what you may think, your running power doesn’t come from your legs… it actually comes from your glutes. And boy, did I need to work on mine. Don’t have a gym membership? No problem! There are loads of apps that can help you to strengthen your muscles. I use the Nike NTC app which has load of workouts pre-programmed on it.

8 Run the race at your own pace

Before running the Old Mutual Soweto Marathon I still hadn’t actually ever run 10km. I had done lots and lots of training but the most I had run in one session was probably 7km. My biggest fear was that I was going to stop and walk, or just stop all together. But, I remembered my fiancé’s advice and ignored the thousands of people around me, and ran at a speed I felt comfortable with.

I was tired (I got up at 3am), it was hot, there was a hill… but I ran my race and finished it with a great time.

So, if I can do it anyone can!

Looking for more tips to take your training to the next level? Here are five more tips that will help you run stronger, better and faster. If you’re hitting the gym, these treadmill tricks will help you get a better workout. 

Disclaimer: I am not a fitness trainer, nor trained as a fitness professional. This advice based on my own personal experiences and is not intended to be taken as qualified fitness advice. I advise anyone who is taking up exercise to seek professional advice and to seek approval from their doctor prior to commencing. 

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