So, you’ve decided to run a marathon in 2018.
You’ve purchased a fancy new pair of running shoes, painstakingly curated a motivational playlist and set your morning alarm for an hour earlier.
It’s time to prove you’re serious and start training, but, like many, you’ve got no idea how to make your latest resolution a success.
Running coach and podiatrist Steve Manning specialises in teaching novice runners how to master the marathon distance.
Last year his club trained 16 people to complete a marathon in 11 weeks — that’s less than three months.
“Some of them probably took on more of a challenge than what was reasonable but they all made it in the end so it was pretty amazing,” he told ABC Radio Brisbane’s Leon Compton.
Mr Manning, 54, has raced in 24 marathons and intends to keep going until he finishes 42 — one for every kilometre in a full marathon course.
He said you should keep a few key things in mind if you want to run a successful race.
Make running part of your routine
Finding consistent times during the week to do your training will help you meet your goals, especially if you’re a first-time runner.
Mr Manning said four weeks of waking up early and running (or run-walking) for 20 to 30 minutes would help you develop good training habits.
“The tendons and ligaments in your body have [to get] strong so they can cope with an increase in training.”
Strength training can also be done to help prepare your body for running training.
Running is likely to have benefits in other areas of your life too.
“It’s very hard to smoke when you’re running and you tend to want fresh fruit and vegetables and not junk food so much,” Mr Manning said.
Train smarter, not harder
To reach marathon distance you only need to train four times a week, according to Mr Manning.
He promotes a minimalist training program for runners under his guidance, and said if you’re doing the right things during those sessions you shouldn’t need to spend any more time pounding the pavement than that.
“The biggest mistake people make is they just try to run the same every day and get a little bit more each week, and that’s really the worst possible way of training.
“You need to have a long run once a week, a speed session … pace work and you need to do some recovery runs and maybe a tempo run, like a five-kilometre race.”
Creating a race plan before the starting gun fires is a must too.
“I think pace judgment is the ulterior motive of our training,” he said.
“It’s not just about getting fit, it’s about teaching people how to run smart in the race and having a realistic goal about what you can achieve.”
If you’ve been glued to the couch over the holidays, Mr Manning said it was likely to take you up to eight weeks to make the distance.
“Once you can get to five kilometres running non stop, then it’s just so much easier after that point.”
If you’re not part of a running club he recommends joining a free parkrun race.
Parkrun is an online community whose members organise weekly five-kilometre runs in locations around Australia.
You can compare your time with other runners through a global leaderboard accessible through the group’s phone app.