Learning to be a better runner

From the total field of 39,096 runners at this years London Marathon, there were just 2,086 runners who completed the Marathon in less than 3 hours. This works out to be around 5%. As it’s fairly unlikely that I’ll join this impressive bunch and bag a sub 3 hour marathon by just continuing to run in an unstructured way, I’ve decided to take step back and look at which areas I can improve on in my quest to be a better runner.

I like to think of this as a similar concept to the idea of marginal gains used by Sir Dave Brailsford in relation to British cycling, looking at each area independently to see where improvements can be made, although I’m hoping for more than marginal improvements in some of these!

The core areas I’ll be looking at are: Form, Nutrition, Training and Psychology.

Form

I know I’ve got some work to do here. I realised my form was a mess well in advance of the Manchester marathon but it really wasn’t the time to start changing something so significant. It was enough of a struggle getting the long miles in and making any changes at this point would’ve been asking for trouble. Lots of improvements to be made here.

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Nutrition

I’ve always had a sweet tooth, and it’s really easy to make excuses for eating badly when you’re running 40 – 50 mile weeks. I’m burning all those calories and the long runs always leave me massively hungry, so why can’t I just eat whatever I want, right? Apparently not.

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Training

Being my first marathon most of my training was focused on building mileage. This extra mileage subsequently caused injuries and niggles which meant that rather than mixing up my training between long runs, I’d simply be taking it easy trying to recover before the next one. Even before the marathon training I’d alway try to run everything as fast as I could. Time to train smarter.

Training

Psychology

This is an interesting one. On it’s own it’s not going to perform miracles, but in combination with all of the other improvements, the mental game has a big part to play.

Running Race

Lots to work on

I’ll be blogging about each of these different areas as I make changes over the next few months, and it’ll be very interesting to see where improvements can be made. I’m fairly confident that the combination of changes will yield some good results.

I’d love to hear what gains you’ve experienced through changes to your training. Let me know in the comments.

Photos by Georgie Pauwelsjkd_shanghai, notyourstandard, lucid tech and Lake Mead National Recreation Area

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