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Treadmills can be an excellent tool for getting the miles in during your marathon training.

Having a treadmill in the garage or basement can allow you to train efficiently at home, without having to take the extra steps required to train outdoors or at the gym.

A treadmill can also help you train effectively – while following a training plan, you will have specific miles and paces to run. How better to follow this plan than by measuring these metrics precisely on a treadmill?

I’ve spent a lot of time on treadmills (I once did an 8-hr treadmill run) – whether it’s due to poor weather outside, travelling, or just trying to squeeze in a quick run – treadmill running can be an awesome tool for any distance runners-in-training.

Best Treadmills for Marathon Training Here’s my run-down of some of the best treadmill options for marathon training.   
XTERRA TR150 Treadmill

A great low-budget treadmill which is functional and does everything you need.

With a speed range of 0.5 – 10 mile per hour and three incline settings, this treadmill ticks all the boxes for 

With wheels and the ability to fold, it is relatively easy to tuck it away.

Very easy to set up and get running out-of-the-box!

NordicTrack T Series Treadmills

An extremely popular treadmill model!

The NordicTrack T series is a mid-range treadmill, loaded with digital features.

The 10-inch touchscreen display gives you access to a massive library of on-demand training sessions – imagine a cross between Netflix and a gym sesson!  The trainer controls the speed and gradient, as you run along!   super-effective means of training.

Horizon Fitness T101 Treadmill

A higher-end model, the T101 is well regarded for it’s high quality build, smooth motion, and quiet operation.

With built-in bluetooth speakers, this treadmill is ready to go and easy to plug in your tablet or smartphone to enjoy some entertainment while you run.

Assault Fitness AirRunner

Check out this (pricey) machine . . . it’s a manual treadmill designed for the Cross-Fit generation.

The curved-deck treadmill is completely powered by your own movement – no plug required.

The curved deck lends itself to being low-resistance, meaning there is no energy required to get up and running. 

There’s also no maximum speed – in fact, the biggest danger of the AirRunner is getting carried away and running too fast!

Perfectly suited for interval training and HIIT.

Which features are important to you when looking for a treadmill? Which model are you currently checking out? Anything to recommend to me?

Leave a comment below!

The post Best Treadmills for Marathon Training: 2019 Edition appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Is your marathon looming, and you’re looking for some last minute advice?

It can be easy in these final few weeks to get excited about your marathon, and do something rash or make a change to your routine that ends up having a negative effect on your marathon!

So how is the best way to spend those last few days and months before your big marathon?

Here are my six key items you have to get right to ensure you’re ready to go on marathon day: 

1. Don’t Try To Cram Workouts During Your Taper

Your taper exists for one reason – to get you to the start line in the best possible condition.

During your taper, you have to gradually decrease your training volume.  This allows to arrive at the marathon rested, recovered, and primed.

Trying to squeeze in last-minute long runs or training sessions during your taper simply doesn’t work.

In fact, you can look at it like this – in the 2-3 weeks prior to your marathon, there’s nothing you can do that will improve your marathon fitness.  Instead, all you can do is preserve what’s already been banked.

2. Dress Rehearsal (Trial Everything)

One thing students of my Marathon Training Masterclass will be familiar with is the marathon dress rehearsal.

I advocate every runner – beginner or advanced – do at least one marathon dress rehearsal in the weeks before their run.

A dress rehearsal is simply a long run in which you simulate marathon conditions as closely as possible.

This means running in the same socks, shoes, and gear.

It also means taking the same fuel, and hydrating as you plan to in the marathon. 

The dress rehearsal helps you identify any snags or weaknesses in your strategy.

Maybe your socks start to rub, but only after 14 miles.

Maybe you get sore shoulders, or you realise you can’t stomach more than two energy gels without wanting to puke.

Either way, best to find out sooner rather than later so you can address it. 

3. Don’t Try Anything New!

Never tried yoga in your life?

Then the week before your marathon is not the time to throw yourself into downward facing dogs!

Many runners find they’ve got some restless energy during their taper, so try and replace their run workouts with something different. 

Trust me, the run-up to your marathon is not the time to take a trial capoeira class!

Neither is it the time to go to the gym and try a workout for the first time.

If your body is not used to these movements, you can easily do damage. 

And remember, your taper is all about preservation!

4. Catch Up On Sleep

One of the most effective ways to recover, both physically and mentally, is simply to sleep.

Take advantage of the fact you don’t need to train so much, and add an extra hour in bed to your schedule. 

You should find the benefits stretch into your work and personal life too.

And your body will thank you come marathon day, as it lines up and is fully prepped.

5. Eat Well

Eat well means eat a plentiful amount, but also to eat good quality food!

You should be increasing your carbohydrate intake in the week prior to your marathon, but do so sensibly.

No binge eating is required!

And carb-loading doesn’t mean junk food – pastas, breads, rice, and potato dishes are all the classics.   

Remember that eating greasy, cheap, or nutritionally bankrupt foods can have a negative effect on your health, and therefore marathon performance. 

6. Mental Preparation

Run through the day of the race in your head, to help find any holes in your plans, and be prepared for contingencies.

Think of how you’ll prepare on marathon morning, and map out your journey to the start line.

Know what you have to do at the start line – whether it’s visit the toilet, warm-up, prepare your GPS, or take a last-minute gel (or all of the above).

Then visualise the entire marathon course, considering your pace strategy.

Remind yourself where the aid stations and bathroom stops are.

Remind yourself of your fuelling and hydration strategy.

Think through your contingency options – what you’ll do if you suffer an injury, whether you’ll walk if you get fatigued, etc.

And finally, mentally visualise crossing the finish line!

The post Six Last Minute Marathon Tips appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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My Path To Racing The Planet Georgia

It’s been almost three years since I ran a full stage race.

After running several in quick succession from 2014 to 2016, it felt like a good time to take a break from them; my appetite for the long hours of training was wearing off, and I felt in danger of losing all enthusiasm for the sport.

In the time since, I’ve kept myself busy (including writing The Stage Race Handbook, among other projects).

The idea of returning to stage races was always in the back of my head, but I wanted to wait until I was ready for it.

Stage races are races spread over a few days; most of them last 5 or 6 days, and many involve you carrying all your own gear and food.  Tents and water are provided.

So I had been tentatively keeping an eye on the Stage Race scene to see if any particular race grabbed my eye.

As the number of stage races each year seems to be on the rise, along with more variations of format and level of support, there’s no shortage of choice.

My first stage was the Racing The Planet race in Madagascar back in 2014.   It was an unforgettable experience in a country I had long wanted to visit.   

So I’ve always had a soft spot for the Racing The Planet format – they make it challenging but provide an excellent level of organisation and support.

Along with their annual ‘4 Deserts‘ series of races, each year they organise a one-off race in a new location.   A race that will only exist once, and won’t be repeated.  My Madagascar race was one of them, other locations have included Ecuador, Sri Lanka, and New Zealand.

So a couple of months ago they announced the location of their ultramarathon for 2020 . . . Georgia.

It’s a country that had honestly never been on my radar, but at the same time, had the otherworldly appeal that all good stage races need.

The unique location, culture, and highest mountain range in Europe  . . . it ticks all the boxes.   So I signed up straight away. 

It’s a 250km, 5-stage, 6-day self-supported stage race – the classic format.

Training for Racing The Planet – Georgia

My distance running training has been sorely lacking in the past few months – that’s part of the reason I signed up so far in advance.   

I’ve got 14 months to get myself prepared, in order to maximise my performance (or minimise the pain, depending how you look at it).

My run training has been limited to a few 5k and 10k runs each week recently, and my strength training hasn’t been much to write home about.

Now I have a target in mind, my aim is to spend the next few months working on speed and short distances along with some strength work.   Then towards the end of this year I’ll begin to introduce longer distance runs.

I don’t have a formal training plan, but I’ve got a rough idea of what I need to be focussing on.  The plan is to strengthen my core fitness and base running speed, then gradually introduce long runs and back-to-back runs. 

The big two wildcards for Georgia are going to be the altitude and the hills.

Racing The Planet have already let us know that the route is going to be through the foothills of the Causcasus mountain range, with a typical altitude of 1000-2000m but with some sections up to 3000m.   This is certainly in a range where some altitude training would be a huge advantage, so in around six months I’ll try and start training in a gym with an altitude room.

As for the hills, historically they’ve been a big weakness of mine – so again, time to hit the trails!

I’ll blog here occasionally on how my Georgia training readiness is going as the race grows nearer.

The post The Road to Georgia – Racing The Planet 2020 appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Hey,

Today we’re launching the Marathon Handbook: Marathon Training and Support Facebook Group.

Do you have a nagging question about your marathon training?

Are you looking to interact and share lessons and stories with runners at the same stage as you?

Click here to join right now!

The purpose of the Facebook group is to serve as a home for our growing community of runners.

It’s a space where you can share your progress, ask questions of the community, and discuss your challenges in your marathon journey.

It’s also a place where you can share resources you’ve found to be useful; personal blogs about your distance running journey, and most importantly, meet other runners.

I’m going to roll out weekly posts and polls (coming soon!) to keep everyone engaged.

In keeping with our community spirit, we’d gently request that you read the rules of the group, and don’t use it as a platform for advertising or unhelpful promotion.

So what are you waiting for?  

Join the Marathon Handbook:  Marathon Training and Support Facebook group today!

Regards,

Thomas from Marathon Handbook

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Hey,

Today we’re launching the Marathon Handbook: Marathon Training and Support Facebook Group.

Do you have a nagging question about your marathon training?

Are you looking to interact and share lessons and stories with runners at the same stage as you?

Click here to join right now!

The purpose of the Facebook group is to serve as a home for our growing community of runners.

It’s a space where you can share your progress, ask questions of the community, and discuss your challenges in your marathon journey.

It’s also a place where you can share resources you’ve found to be useful; personal blogs about your distance running journey, and most importantly, meet other runners.

I’m going to roll out weekly posts and polls (coming soon!) to keep everyone engaged.

In keeping with our community spirit, we’d gently request that you read the rules of the group, and don’t use it as a platform for advertising or unhelpful promotion.

So what are you waiting for?  

Join the Marathon Handbook:  Marathon Training and Support Facebook group today!

Regards,

Thomas from Marathon Handbook

The post Introducing the Marathon Handbook: Marathon Training Facebook Group! appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Marathon runners have a wealth of information available to them for their marathon training and running of the actual event.
 

However many marathon runners, especially first – timers, commit fatal errors which can really hinder their marathon performance.  (I’m talking from experience here).

Here are the top mistakes made by marathon runners:

Mistake #1:  Screwing Up Your Pace

This is the single biggest mistake made by marathon runners, and it’s entirely preventable.

Many otherwise well-prepared marathon runners end up having a terrible race day experience, simply because they didn’t have a pace strategy.

 

What am I talking about?
 

Many runners go out too fast.   

They get swept up in the crowds and the adrenaline, and find the first few miles deceptively easy.

It isn’t until after the half-way point that they pay the price.

Other runners simply lack a pace strategy – they decide they’ll wing it on race day and see how things go.  

Again, this often ends in a ‘crash-and-burn’ scenario.

Having even a basic pace strategy can avoid all these issues.   

For most beginner and intermediate marathon runners, planning to run even splits is the most effective and straight-forward pace strategy.  

So get a good GPS watch.

Decide your target pace in advance.

And stick to it come race day.

Mistake #2:  Doing Too Many Long, Fast Training Runs

Many marathon runners think that the best way to prepare for a marathon is to go out and run long runs at your target marathon pace.

(Before my first marathon, I actually ran a marathon in training at my desired race pace.   The result?  come marathon day, I was still burned out from this ‘training run’).

The trick to effective marathon training is to train smart.

Doing long runs at marathon pace is not effective; the distance is too long for you to really work on speed, and if you’re trying to run fast, you’re not working on your stamina effectively.

Instead, each run should have a purpose.

Do your long runs at a slow, conversational pace in order to build endurance.

Do shorter training runs at marathon pace, or do speed work such as interval training to work on speed.

Working on these two attributes – endurance and speed – separately means that you can improve on each more effectively, then combine them on marathon day.

Note:  I’m not advocating never doing long runs at marathon pace.   During marathon training, it is worth doing at least one, preferably two – a half-marathon or a 15-miler, for example.  Just no need to overdo it.

Mistake #3: Not fuelling properly

Many marathon runners simply don’t fuel properly.

They don’t know what to take, how much to take, or when to take it.

There’s less need to fuel on-the-run during marathon training, when most of your runs are under two hours (and your long runs are done at a conservative pace).

However, come marathon day, you want to maximise your performance potential.  

And to do this, you need fuel.

I recommend taking one energy gel 15 minutes before the start line, a then one every 45-60 minutes of the race.   

This keeps a constant stream of easy-to-process energy going to your system.

Just make sure you trial your fuelling strategy in advance – some people can’t stomach energy gels when running.

What other marathon mistakes have you made?

Let me know below!

The post The 3 Biggest Marathon Mistakes appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Interval training is a key tool in any good marathon runner’s toolbox.

It is a super-effective form of speed work, based around the idea of running in several short, fast bursts, with slower recovery intervals in-between.

There are many different forms of interval training, such as Fartleks, Yasso 800s, HIIT, and dozens of variations.  

But they all follow the same core rule of fast and slow intervals.

In this post, first I’ll look at the benefits of interval training, then I’ll explain why interval training is so beneficial for marathon runners.  Then I’ll run through how to apply interval training to your marathon training schedule.

The Benefits of Interval Training

Why should you consider including interval training in your marathon training schedule?

Here are the main benefits:

  1. Interval training increases your base speed.

Looking to improve your marathon finishing time?  

Interval training, like other forms of speed work, is specifically designed to make you faster.   

  1. Interval training improves your stamina.

Running short bursts at high intensity improves your VO2 Max, or your aerobic threshold.  

For distance runners, this basically means your running economy is improved – you can go further for longer without burning as much fuel.

  1. Interval training doesn’t over-stress the system.

One of the perils of marathon training is that over-training and fatigue can lead to injury. 

Running for hours on end wears you down.  

Interval training provides an alternative – a short, intense burst of exercise.   More on this below.

  1. Interval training breaks up the monotony of marathon training

Prospective marathon runners run the risk of getting bored plodding around the park at 10km/hr.  

Interval training is a small shock to the system; it tells your legs to wake up, get engaged, and prove themselves! 

It prevents you from developing the ‘marathon shuffle’.

The Importance of Interval Training For Marathon Runners

The second biggest mistake (after number one) most new marathon runners make is in their training.  

There is the assumption that the best way to prepare for a marathon is to go out for long runs at your desired marathon pace. 

This is wrong!

Going for long, fast runs is an ineffective way of preparing for a marathon.

In fact, it’s much more likely to lead to injuries and over-training.   These runs are usually done too slow to improve your speed, but too fast to really improve your stamina.

Instead, the best way to prepare for a marathon is in being specific when it comes to your training.

There are two main traits to develop:

Stamina and speed.

Stamina is developed in your regular training runs, and in your long, slow runs.

Speed is developed through specific speed work, and interval training is the old favourite of marathon runners worldwide.

Different Types of Interval Training Fartleks

Fartleks, as weird as they sound (it’s Swedish for “speed playing”), are the most basic form of interval training you can find.

Fartleks are essentially free-form interval training.  

You can run fast for a few hundred yards, then if you get tired, jog until the next tree.   They’re unstructured, and designed to be fun and engaging – instead of just going for a monotonous training run, fartleks will have you sprinting then jogging and breaking things up.

The problem many marathon runners have with Fartleks is that they are simply not structured enough ; it’s hard to quantify the improvements made when running Fartleks if there’s no target pace or number of repeats.

Yasso 800s

Yasso’s, or Yasso 800s, were designed by Burt Yasso, a veteran runner and writer.  

Yassos are designed to give you a target pace, which also acts as an indicator of what your finishing time will be on your marathon.   

In recent years, runners have questioned whether Yassos should be considered a training staple, or simply a tool to indicate what your final marathon time could be.  

I find them to be a very effective way of introducing speed work; although they are best done on a running track.

Here’s how to perform Yasso 800s:

1. Take your target marathon finishing time and convert it into minutes and seconds.   So if you’re looking to run a 3hr 45 minute marathon, this would be 3 minutes and 45 seconds.   This becomes your target time for running 800m.

2. Start your workout with 5 – 10 minutes of light running and warming up.

3. Run 800m at your target pace.

4. Recover by jogging gently for the same length of time (3 min 45 seconds in this example).

5. Repeat as required.   I’d recommend starting with 4 intervals and building up to a maximum of 10 intervals at the peak of your marathon training.

Shorter Intervals – 200 / 400m

Shorter intervals of only 200m and 400m are common in training plans for 5k and 10k races, but less so in longer distance runs such as the marathon.

However, I’d advocate for incorporating short sprint-style intervals into your training if you truly want to move the needle on your speed and really improve your marathon finishing time.

With shorter distances of 200m and 400m, you can do you speed work at a near-sprint, and recover with the same distance in very gentle jogging.

This approach really activates your legs and challenges your VO2 max – i.e. your aerobic ability – in ways which most other speed work doesn’t.

For doing shorter intervals, I typically stick to 200m fast / 200m slow, and repeat this 10 – 15 times. For the fast intervals, I simply run at a near-sprint – a speed which I can maintain for the 200m distance, but couldn’t maintain for 300m+.

Design Your Own Intervals

There are a myriad of different ways to structure your interval training. Different running coaches will make difference interval plans, depending on the runner’s ability and goals.

With this in mind, here’s some tips for designing your own interval training workout:

  1. Don’t make the fast intervals longer than 800m / 4 minutes.

    The whole idea of the fast intervals is to push your body to run at speed for a brief period.

If these intervals are too long, you’ll either burn out, or slow down to avoid burning out.

Limit the fast intervals to a suitable length – I recommend no more than 800m, or 4 minutes.

  1. The slow intervals need to allow you to recover, but not stop.

I typically find that making the slow intervals the same distance as the fast intervals gives you sufficient time to recover.

If that feels too easy, run slow for the same length of time as you ran fast. So if you covered your fast interval in 2 minutes, run slow for 2 minutes.

  1. Get a good GPS watch.

Training on a track is ideal for intervals.

However, sometimes we have to make do and do interval training in the streets, parks, or trails.

If you’re in this situation, make sure you have a good GPS watch that accurately measures distance and speed.

  1. Use landmarks instead of being too precise.

I find that using landmarks such as lampposts, corners, or shops is much easier than trying to track things precisely using my GPS watch.

In the park near my house, I run intervals around landmarks which I know the rough distance between; for me, this is good enough.

I also like that I can actually see the finish line; like when I say I’ll sprint to the fountain, I know what I have to do.

  1. Start with low reps, but add every time.

Start off doing four repetitions of the interval if you can, but the next time you go out, do five. Every time, try to add one more repetition.

How do you use interval training in your marathon preparation?

Let me know in the comments below!

The post Marathon Interval Training appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Track miles, not likes.
Social media has infiltrated our lives in extraordinary ways in the past 10 years.

As well as making the world more connected, it has given us a tool which means we never need to be alone.

80% of us check our smartphones before brushing our teeth in the morning.

And while Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram claim to be tools for good, the effects they’re having on our lives are questionable.  And depending who you listen to, potentially pretty damaging.   

For some runners and athletes, posting to platforms like Instagram and Twitter have become a key part of their exercise routine, as integral as putting on their running shoes.

But I want to make the case that these platforms do not have our best intentions at heart, and that there’s only one social media platform you should use daily.

That’s Strava*.

Strava calls itself a social fitness network. 

Essentially it tracks your activities, offers a range of analysis tools, and easily connects you with your friends so you can follow each others’ progress.  


That’s it.  

So why should you choose Strava and jettison your other social media apps?

Strava has succeeded in building an activity-based social platform for athletes, with almost none of the dirty tactics of the big social media platforms.

It’s a place to go to share your activities, and connect with other athletes.  

The only reason to go there is exercise and health-related.   It has a clear purpose, and that is to promoting exercise.

That’s why I love it.

* There are other popular fitness tracking apps such as the Nike Running Club, RunKeeper, Runtastic – these are all good alternatives.  However Strava is the biggest and arguably best of these, and is the closest rival to major social networks for our attention.

 
The Ugly Side of Social Media
The average person checks their phone 47 times per day.

This means they are looking at their screen roughly every 20 minutes.
 

This is no accident – most social networks were intentionally designed to be addictive.  Even Sean Parker, Facebook’s biggest early investor, says so

The addictiveness was ingrained in the design of these apps with features like the stream of notifications, infinite scroll, and the ‘like button’.  Many of the software engineers who helped develop these tools now admit they were meant to be habit-forming, creating an addiction.

How does this affect us, the users?

The studies are depressing to read.  Habitual social media use leads to anxiety, sadness, and poorer interpersonal relationships.

Although we might try and justify our social media use, chances are these platforms have greater control over us than we’d recognise.

 
The Ethical Case For Strava
While Strava has a lot of the same tools and features as other social media apps, they are at least used to promote health and activity.   No incessant memes, no fake news; just the user’s activities.

 

Strava does all the good things every social media platform claims to do – connecting us to each other, essentially – while avoiding the sinister practices the others thrive on.
 

What do I mean?

Every time you’re browsing Facebook, Twitter, or Google (or Amazon, or Youtube), you’re the subject of some of the most advanced marketing technology in the world.  

By tracking your browsing history, habits, and on-screen behaviour, these companies know exactly how to target you in a way to maximise the chances that you’ll click on whatever they’re advertising. 

This is usually a product chosen specifically based on the profile they have of you. 

The vendors behind these ads pay the platforms well for this super-targeted adverts.  


If you thought you were the customer, think again.  

 

You are the product.

Strava separates itself from the regular social media companies in that it doesn’t sell user’s data to third parties for advertising.  

This means you won’t see adverts on Strava – even on the free version.   

So how does Strava make money?  

It has the Strava Summit premium subscription, which costs $3 – 8 per month depending on your plan.   It offers added analysis and safety features.

 
Secondly, its Strava Metro program uses data from athletes who have opted in to work with urban planners to improve infrastructure.  In other words, a revenue stream that improves their users’ society.
 

Thirdly, it partners with fitness brands like LuluLemon to create in-app fitness challenges, which are designed to compliment the user experience.

Strava For The World
Strava is where athletes live online.   

It’s where Killian Jornet posted his world record double-summit of Everest (#1, and #2).

It’s where you can follow Nick Butter’s every step in his ongoing attempt to run a marathon in every single country of the world.

And it’s where I go for little runs round Madrid and occasionally post photos. 

*
Strava’s community is formidable.

Look at Strava Local, where athletes share their local running routes.    

In a new city?   Jump on and find the best places to run, as recommended by the experts who live there.

Or google #stravaart, and prepare to be amazed at some athletes’ dedication . . .

How To Ditch Traditional Social Media and Embrace Strava

Here are my tips for re-designing your relationship with social media, becoming healthier, and enjoying life more:

1. Remove all other social media apps from your phone

You can still keep your accounts open, but just check them on your computer instead.  So you’re not missing out on anything.  

This small step removes the temptation to ’check’ things every 20 minutes; when you’re bored, when you just wake up, and so on.

2. Set aside a specific time to ‘check-in’ with your social media

Commit to checking your regular social media platforms once per day at a specified time.   Doing a digital detox, or deleting them altogether, is arguably the best option – but are often too big a step, at least initially.  

Instead, set aside a window to check your social media accounts, and keep a note of how much time you spend on them!  Also, mentally note how many times you unintentionally get pulled down a social media rabbit hole and forget why you’re there.

3. Install the chrome plug-in ’Facebook News Feed Iradicator’

This simple plugin (link) has given me back countless hours of my life.   All it does is blank out the Facebook news feed when you’re on the Facebook home screen.  

This means any time you go to Facebook, your attention is much less likely to be vacuumed into a mindless scroll-fest of things you don’t need to know about.

4. Use Twitter and Instagram with intention


If you choose to still use platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, become aware of their pitfalls, and set out some rules for using them.  

For example, you may decide you want to continue to use twitter in order to communicate with running experts or see what a specific person is sharing.  

Beware of getting dragged into scroll-fests!   Same goes for Instagram; many people justify using it as a means to build their brand, or share their values.   In which case, don’t get sucked into following hundreds of others, or exchanging follows and likes.

5. Use ‘likes’ with caution

In Digital Minimalism, Cal Newport describes how the ‘like’ button is basically the work of an evil genius.  It’s digital cocaine. 

As well as being designed to give us all tiny dopamine hits, the real danger of the ‘like’ button is that people begin to replace real human communication with a single click.  

Next time you are hovering over the tiny thumbs up, think about writing a comment, a direct message, or even calling the person instead.

6. Join Strava and leap in!

Install the Strava app and get started.   

Add your friends.  

If your friends aren’t on it, add me.

Go for a few runs, check your relative effort.  

Take pictures; I do, and then enjoy looking back over my runs.  

Run with friends and tag each other in your activities.   

Join a challenge.  

Logon to Strava via your computer and tell them which shoes you’re running in, so you can track mileage.  

*

With these steps, I hope you’ll find you begin to curb your activity from regular social media channels, and begin to make Strava your main social media platform.


Count the miles, not the likes.

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If this post has enflamed your enthusiasm to cut back on devices and social media, I highly recommend Cal Newport’s book Digital Minimalism – it spawned a lot of my thoughts on the matter.

The post Why Strava Is The Only Social Media Platform You Should Use appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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Your post-marathon recovery starts the minute you cross the marathon finish line.

And the sooner you take action to minimise aches, pains, and injuries, the better.

The good news is that there are actionable steps you can take immediately after your marathon to help you recover quicker.

Here are my top tips for your marathon recovery, in the hours and days after your marathon!

Immediately After The Marathon 
Keep Moving

If you managed to run all the way to the finish line, that’s fantastic. But beware, that lactic acid is waiting in the wings to jump in and stiffen up your legs as soon as you stop moving.  

So – walk around for a good 15 minutes or so once you cross the finish line – don’t sit down and let those legs go stiff.

Walk over to collect your medal, walk to the burger stall or the physio tent – just don’t be too quick to stop moving, or you will find it much harder to get up again.


Drink and Eat
Continue to drink water when you finish – your legs may have stopped racing, but your internal organs haven’t.

And eat – preferably something as substantial and hearty as you can stomach.  It helps kick-start your body’s recover process. Something with high protein content is advised.

Elevate Your Legs and Stretch
Once you’ve walked off the stiffness, grab a seat on the floor and raise your legs up on a chair or wall – this helps drain the excess fluid from them, preventing them from becoming too stiff or swollen.  If you can, remain here for twenty minutes of so, and do some gentle stretching – you’ll be grateful for it in the coming days, trust me!

Physio and Massage
Better than stretching yourself is getting someone else to do it for you.  Likewise, getting a leg massage can really help relieve your tired leg muscles.  

Some of the bigger marathons organise post-race masseuses – if you can get one of these, go for it!


Tend to Blisters
Now is the time to clean up any foot issues you’ve had.  If they’re minor, you can usually leave them alone and they’ll gradually disappear on their own over a few days.  

If they’re big, or contain blood, you want to drain them hygienically – clean the whole foot first, especially the area around the blister, then pop it with a sterilised needle at three or four points around the perimeter.  

Let the blister drain, then consider applying some dressing if the skin flap is left loose – your foot won’t be ready to lose the old skin yet to keep the area covered and protected.


To the Pool
If you can, get to a swimming pool.  

They are one of the best ways to recover.  Simply walking around the shallow end of a pool can be a great way to treat your legs after a marathon, and doing strokes like the breast stroke can ease your muscles and help with recovery.

Post-Marathon Recovery In The Days After
A post-marathon recovery phase in the days following your marathon is important; having a plan in place to let you recuperate both physically and mentally.   

 

It’s imperative to take it easy in the days following your marathon, and allow yourself to celebrate and have that well-deserved break. 

But after a few days, it is worth testing the waters with some light exercise such as swimming and cross-training – just so your body doesn’t stop completely.   

After a few days, you can introduce some easy, slow, short runs into your recovery plan. These will loosen up your legs and actually help with recovery.

 

Post-Marathon Blues
In the days following your successful marathon, don’t be surprised if you feel a little bit melancholic.  

The reason is that you’ve just completed a major challenge, a task that took over a large chunk of your life – and now, believe it or not, you miss the sense of achievement and hard work that you got from all the training.  

Now it’s over, and you’ll never be able to run another first marathon again.

Bear in mind that you’re likely to be physically laid up too – and not just your legs and feet.  

Running a marathon puts a tremendous stress on the body, and over the next few days your internals will be working overtime to heal your tired muscles and rebuild itself.

This means that your immune system may be depleted, and you may be more susceptible to viruses and bugs.

 
Use this period to rest up, don’t do anything physically demanding and try not to expose yourself unnecessarily to viruses or unsanitary places.  Get plenty of sleep, eat some ice cream and congratulate yourself!
 

The post Post Marathon Recovery Guide appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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In my opinion, every runner should have a good running vest.

Yet so many runners go without them!   They end up carrying things in their hands as they run, or wearing a fanny pack which rubs and bounces around everywhere.

I wear my running vest all the time; even if I’m just going for a shorter training run, I often find myself slipping it on.  

What do I use it for?

Keys, money, my phone, headphones, water bottle, gels, salt tablets; you name it.

I discovered the benefits of a running vest after spending years running around carrying things in my hands pockets.   

It was annoying.

A good running vest will fit snugly to your body, and provide no chafing or interference to your running form. 

I actually find that when I run with my iPhone in the back of my vest, the weight gently rolls my shoulders back a bit and helps open up my chest, improving my form!

What I Look For In A Running Vest

Just like a good pair of shoes, a good running vest should first and foremost be comfortable.   If it annoys you at any point as you run, it’s not for you.

Here are some more pointers for what to look for when picking your running vest:

Pocket size and accessibility.   My running vest has a myriad of tiny sleeve pockets that are flush with the body of the vest; they’re perfect for money and gels, and I can comfortably carry up to 15 gels in them (I’ve only done this a couple of times . . .).

Hydration system.  Here’s something controversial . . . I don’t like running vests or packs with bladders in the back.  I find them cumbersome to clean and operate, a pain to refill on the move . . . and it’s hard to tell how much water you’ve got left.  Instead, I prefer a running vest with a couple of smaller bottles that hug my chest.   It makes them easier to access and manage!

Body hugging.   The running vest needs to be body-hugging while remaining comfortable; the closer everything is to your body, the less inertia and bounce will occur. Look for vests with at least one chest-strap, and adjustable straps everywhere else.

Volume / size.  If you are going to use your own water bladder with the running vest – or want to carry extra items along – then make sure the capacity is big enough.

  Best Running Vests

Here is my selection of the top running vests:

Nathan VaporAir Hydration Pack 
Although I’m not crazy about hydration packs, if you’re looking for one the Nathan VaporAir is one of the best.

It carries up to 2l of water, and is designed with super-breathable body-mapped material.   It has two large pockets at the front for easy access, and two smaller stash pockets for gels and keys.

Finally, it’s flourescent colours help it you’re someone who trains in hours of darkness!

Salomon Advanced Skin Backpack
Salomon describe this vest as a ‘carrying solution’ – with a multitude of front pockets, this pack is perfectly suited for a trail run or race where you may have to carry your own fuel.   

No bladder is included, but 2 x 500ml soft water bottles are, which fit snugly into front pockets for easy access.  Made from elastic power mesh; the pocket count and comfort levels makes this my kind of vest!

Nathan VaporAiress Pack for Women
There’s a lot to love about this vest / pack designed specifically for women.  It comes with an optional 2l hydration bladder, as well as pockets at the front for bottles if you choose.   

It has great reviews in terms of both comfort and practicality, and it looks great!

Camelbak Ultra Pro Vest
Camelbak’s Ultra Pro is a simple, front-loaded running best.   Featuring two 500ml soft bottles on the front, several pockets, and two front straps.   

The back pocket is smaller – no room for a separate hydration bladder, for example – but this vest has all you need to run far!

The post Best Running Vests Guide: 2019 Edition appeared first on Marathon Handbook.

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