Garmin ambassador Dr Martin Yelling is on hand with all the tips you need for a successful virtual marathon
While the virtual London Marathon won’t have the same atmosphere as a big event (unless you’ve managed to rope in a few thousand spectators – and who knows? Maybe you have!), runners have still signed up in their droves to complete their own marathons in their own time on their own turf.
We spoke to Dr Martin Yelling – former international runner, elite duathlete and triathlete (as well as being, of course, Mr Liz Yelling) – on how to keep motivated, and what new things runners should set their sights on for this virtual race. Here are his absolute must-have tips for a successful race day on 4th October.
Martin’s three top tips
- Be comfortable with uncertainty – The last few months have been difficult, complex and uncertain for many and without doubt running will have been impacted in some way. For some lockdown, anxiety, furlough, family and work changes may have allowed a consistent and regular running routine to have developed, whilst for others running may have been disrupted, infrequent and challenging. It’s okay to not be completely where you want to be fitness wise. It’s okay not to have done all the miles you thought you might. It’s okay to do what you can, when you can and feel like you are physically and mentally able to cover 26.2 miles however you can, walk, jog, run or a mixture of all. Be comfortable with that approach and where you’re at.
- On your terms – The great thing about having a full 24 hours to cover the marathon distance is that you can approach tackling it on your terms, in your own way. This level of flexibility can take away unwanted stress and pressure. But it’s still important to plan your personal 26.2mile strategy. Think carefully about how you’d like to achieve your marathon finish and what you’ll set up to help you do this. Do you want to be optimistic and set yourself a personal goal finish time to help motivate your miles or do you want to me more relaxed in your approach and allow the miles to tick by. Do you want to run an out and back course, a long loop, or multiple laps? When do you want to start your run? Will you set up supporters, friends to join your for sections? Know your route, understand what motivates you and it’ll help you enjoy the process.
- Pacing is key – Despite increased flexibility and the ability to set your own aspirations it’s still a marathon and shouldn’t be underestimated! You’ll almost certainly enjoy the experience and your virtual London Marathon a lot more if you have a pace plan to ensure you’re in good shape to do the distance. Getting all excited in the first 10 miles will mean the final 10miles are more likely to feel tougher. Be disciplined in the first few miles, it should feel easy in those early miles. If it doesn’t, you’re working too hard so slow down. It helps to check in your pace by using a GPS running watch, like a Garmin Forerunner, to monitoring each mile as you tick it off. By setting your wearable to bleep each mile (or kilometre depending on your unit of measurement preference) you’ll see your time for the previous mile / km and be able to stay on pace right to target split markers, (eg 10k, halfway, 20miles) right to the end. Remember, to stop your watch when you’re done! You’ll also need to share your marathon activity and data after you’ve completed it (and bask in your glory of course!).