We're 145 days away from the 40th running of the KBC Dublin Marathon. For first timers who completed the most important task by registering for the marathon before the race sold out, or for anyone pondering a marathon this autumn, the hard work is in front of us. There's at least 16 weeks of hard training to do, so many kilometres to log, so many marathon training tips to absorb and so many articles to read about nutrition, training and running the race itself. But before we do any of that, we have to get on the road.
Here are the five things we recommend before you put a foot to the pavement. Experience has taught us these five things can radically transform the marathon experience.
Get the right pair of shoes
You're not going to get anywhere in your marathon training without a decent pair of shoes. Footwear is the most important purchase you will make over the next four months. You are going to need reliable and comfortable shoes if you are going to do the running required to finish 43.5km. Train for a marathon with the wrong shoes and you're inviting injury upon yourself. Go to your local running store, have your gait examined by the running professionals there and invest in a pair of runners that will complement the way your body wants to move.
Get a plan
There's no point training for a marathon if you don't have a goal in mind. Sure, getting to the finish line on race day is an achievement in itself, but the entire training experience becomes richer and more enjoyable when we set a target time to strive for. There are many different philosophies for the best ways to train for a marathon. There's the Galloway Method, based on walking and running. There's the Hanson Method, where you never run more that 16 miles during your training. There's loads others. Choose a plan that works best for you and the amount of time you want to commit to training. But choose something. You'll find a few handy ones here, with info on how to purchase them.
There are also some brilliant free marathon plans here.
Discover the best running routes around you
Your marathon dreams will go nowhere if you end up running the same 10k loop over and over and over again. Variety is clutch in the marathon process as you'll need to keep your mind (as well as your body) fresh during the experience. That's why Dublin runners are so indebted to Phoenix Park - the park contains multitudes of runs. If you're not lucky enough to have a massive park at your doorstep, log into Google Maps and explore the landscape around you. It's Ireland so the likelihood is a number of long and contemplative running options are just at your doorstep.
Love Saturday morning runs in our beautiful Phoenix Park 💚 pic.twitter.com/3cBabtW1y6
— Marsha Williams (@MarshaWilliams8) April 23, 2016
Once you've got your shoes and your plan and you know where you're running, you need a place to log your running data. There are a few social apps for runners but Strava is the most popular and effective. Best of all, you don't need a fancy GPS watch to tap into the Strava community.
— Jeff Jungsten (@jjungsten) May 25, 2012
Its basic format logs all of your kilometre data for free, you just need to strap it to your arm. Strava transforms training from a guessing-game on kilometre splits and distanced covered to instant analysis of your runs. Its an essential tool for anyone trying to log a decent marathon time.
And though it's easier with a bike, you might just become a Strava artist.
— Strava (@Strava) December 30, 2018
Get some mates to run with
On top of the physical benefits, running can be a great way to clear your head and process thoughts. You do, after all, spend a whole heap of time in your head while running. And while running can often be a transcendent solitary experience, it is generally a more enjoyable experience spent in the company of others. Running with friends or strangers provides a sense of shared purpose as well as a jolt of motivation in case you're struggling to push yourself. Training for four months to finish a marathon can often feel burdensome - best to share that burden with someone else.
And if your friends don't run, join a running club.