How to train for the London Marathon

Marathon competitors pass by Queen Victoria Memorial with Buckingham Palace in the background

Marathon competitors pass by Queen Victoria Memorial with Buckingham Palace in the background - Credit: Jon Buckle for Virgin Money Lond

Come Sunday April 24, for many West Essex runners, months of hard graft and vomit-inducing miles will culminate in sheer ecstasy crossing the finish line, having conquered the iconic London Marathon

If you ever want to witness proof of human perseverance and goodwill, our capital’s streets will this month host cheering supporters cajoling truly inspirational heroes that are primed for 26.2 miles of some blood, lots of sweat and maybe a few tears - all this in aid of worthy causes close to their heart.

Taylor Made

This year’s event isn’t your usual affair, as the 36th edition of the London Marathon, will see its one millionth finisher along the Mall. One of 38,000 contenders for this prestigious accolade, 42-year-old father of two, Nick Taylor, has certainly put in the groundwork ahead of running in his first marathon, on-behalf of Woodford Green’s Haven House Children’s Hospice.

Having come a long way since tackling 5km park runs on a Saturday morning, North Chingford-based Nick now clocks around 50km per week. ‘I’ve tried to get out four times a week. Living on the doorstep of Epping Forest is a blessing, so my long run on a Sunday is invariably through the forest, a lot more enjoyable than pounding the pavements midweek.’

It’s not just the thought of sushi, chocolate and refreshing beer that’s driving an excited Nick on. ‘My father ran the London Marathon at a similar age to myself in 3hrs 50mins, so that would be my ultimate target (don’t tell him!). Most importantly however, raising as much as we can for a great cause, it doesn’t matter whether we run it in three, four or six hours. If I can help just a little, it’s the least I can do.’

In His Locker

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Another that would be extremely happy to clock under four hours is 21-year-old William Locker, who like Nick, will assemble in Greenwich Park, chomping at the bit for his inaugural marathon.

Having tackled the recent Brentwood Half-Marathon, the extremely active Danbury resident has made sure there’s been no let-up in his preparation. Like many runners, his work commitments as an electrician may have proven an obstacle, yet William has tailored evenings around running.

‘Training twice a week since January, I originally said I would like to finish in 3hrs 45mins, yet as training progressed, I feel I may have slightly underestimated the intensity of the physical and psychological demands of the marathon.’

A core influence driving him to the finish will be those at The Dream Factory, the Essex-based charity that makes dreams come true for children and young adults with life-limiting conditions. William and his family have been staunch supporters ever since being introduced by a close family friend.

William’s friends and family will also not be far from his thoughts mid-run. ‘I’ve asked everyone that has donated to choose a song that means a lot to them, so I can add it to my playlist. When their song plays, I’ll think of them to spur me on. I’m just looking forward to the personal sense of accomplishment upon finishing, knowing that the money I’ve raised could possibly make a difference in someone’s life.’

This Girl Can

With Pilates considered a secret weapon for both elite and recreational runner, Woodford-based Pilates instructor Sonia Noy explains how she’s primed marathon runners in her engaging classes

No matter your sex, age, body type, or your goal, you can benefit from Pilates. Enabling you to strengthen and do whatever activity gives you that buzz, the way it enhances in sport is incredible. Clients see the benefits of Pilates outside of Pilates itself. It becomes part of their fitness regime.

Runners often have a surprisingly weak core. I don’t think there’s a runner I’ve worked with where we haven’t focused on their core. When your centre is strong, every stride you take has more power and the energy you use to take those strides is reduced. Also, to get up those hills, you really want your glutes to be firing, which makes a huge difference with power.

Muscles can get exceptionally tight for runners. We work to adjust any imbalances, whilst lengthening and strengthening muscles, improving posture, so that your running is improved. Look at Usain Bolt, his posture is incredible when he runs.

Breathing is a massive aspect of Pilates. Conducting those deep breaths while running, you allow oxygen to flow properly around your body, keeping muscles warm. Taking tension away, it gives you a moment of calm when you hit that wall.

If you can, balance a couple of one-hour sessions in a week alongside your running. That helps lengthen those muscles that keep your core functioning. Pilates generally takes about six weeks until you really feel it kicking in. With time, we can really make a difference and with clients I’ve worked with for a longer time, recovery rates are massively improved.

I’ve found my runners are much more mindful, understanding if their Piriformis, or IT band is playing up, or if they need to engage their core, or glutes. It’s important to be in tune with your body, so when you feel that niggle, you know the difference between soreness and a warning sign.

Get in touch

Sonia Noy Pilates 07598 062 416

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