Neil Featherby offered his marathon training tips to a group of Norwich Road Runners last week. Picture: Neil Featherby
So here we are into February and having agreed to try and help a few more people this year with their training for the London and other early season marathons, along with the many people who also pop into Sportlink for advice, it is quite clear that the realities of what training to run 26.2 miles really does mean.
Last week I was also invited along to the Norwich Road Runners by two former top local runners, Ray Lindsay and Richard Sales, to join them for what was a really enjoyable evening of talking running with of course a bit of a Q&A session also thrown in for good measure. What made it even nicer was the fact that all those present are running various marathons during the next few months albeit at differing levels of ability and experience.
At the end of the day though, it is all about being totally realistic and keeping it to the simple, but specific facts of how to apply your own training towards being able to run such a long distance event in the most efficient way possible.
However, as we know, keeping it simple is not always easy especially when realising that whilst we are now indeed into February, it does also mean that the first of the spring marathons is just a few weeks away for which many are now wondering if the training plan they are following or perhaps have not entirely followed I should say, means they may not be where they think they should be at this stage.
This of course is not just applicable to those who are worried about getting round and completing the distance, but to some of those more competent athletes whose confidence may have now waned a little with regards to what their original target time was. In other words as we get ever nearer, it is easy for doubts to start creeping in if we let them.
This is also when it is so easy to get caught up searching for further advice and even looking for short cuts in the hope of finding the secret to a better and perhaps easier way to achieve the much wanted final result.
Let's face it, there is all sorts of available advice and info out there whereby sometimes you can end up spending more time talking about it than what it actually takes to do the training miles if you aren't careful.
Unfortunately all this ends up doing is leading to a sea of confusion, especially if you haven't heard the answer you might be looking for amongst all the various opinions.
Amongst all those varying opinions of course is mine for which I will always say that there are no magic wands so don't waste time looking for them and beyond that I will continue to say, look at exactly where you are currently at and then reassess your goals realistically if you deep down think you need to.
Once you have done that, you need to focus on your own training and most importantly don't start worrying about where are others may say they are at with theirs and take it one week at a time to be able to further adjust or amend if you need to.
The amount of times I have heard first time potential marathoners worrying that people they know have already got up to nearly 20 miles in training whereas they haven't even got up to half way yet i.e. 13 miles.
My answer to that might be: "yes, but those who are already nearly up to twenty milers in training have run several marathons before and have been running longer than you," or "yes, but you have had a setback with an injury or illness, whereas each time you go out to do your weekly or fortnightly long run, it's the furthest you have ever run for which your body will need more recovery time."
It is all about gently applying the stress and work load to allow the body time to adapt and of course become more efficient when it comes to meeting the demands.
Unfortunately for those who try to play catch up or do too much, too soon, they just end up increasing the risk of breaking down through injury or fatigue and hence why I said at the start of this column it is all about keeping it simple and realistic.
If you are lucky enough to have a coach who is there to advise and guide you which all running clubs will have, then listen to what they say and most importantly be confident in their knowledge. However, and most importantly be confident in your own belief that when you do eventually make it to the start line, you will be in the best shape you can possibly be in during what will have been your own personal journey to get there. That in itself can make those final 26.2 miles seem far less of a challenge.