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What I learned from marathon training

From training plans to race day, dietitian Daniel Thomson discusses his marathon challenge.

The marathon challenge has captivated many an amateur runner and for Yarrawonga dietitian Daniel Thomson, the upcoming birth of his second child added a deadline as well. “We were expecting our second baby in five to six months and I thought I’d better get one under the belt before things got a bit more hectic in life,” he says.

Settling on the Cadbury Marathon, held in January in Hobart, he picked up a training plan off a friend, consulted some health professionals and began mapping out his exercise journey. “I wanted a challenge. I would consider myself an AA runner (Amateur at being Amateur) so for me just finishing it was the goal.”

Here he shares a little about what he learned along the way.

Creating a training plan

A local bloke up this way named Chris ‘Keya’ Kennedy (who recently did his first Ironman in Melbourne) gave me a copy of a few training programs that he had. One was for experienced runners, one for beginners. Before the program I got a wheel alignment from Dave the local podiatrist and throughout the training I got weekly massages from Andy Jacques, the lady with the most unforgiving thumbs/elbows I have encountered.

The training journey

I trained for about three months with the structured program but was running a bit before that. I chose the beginner training program – which had 4-5 runs per week and one long run on the weekend. The long weekly run got progressively longer over the 3 month program to a peak of 32 km, then tapered off. The other runs were mixed intensities, up to 10-12 km.

I stuck to it fairly well although I had my fair share of lame periods with sore hips and things, so missed a week at one point and also a few other sessions. I didn’t panic too much about missing a few sessions though.

Food for fuel

I ensured that I ate regularly with nourishing snacks (some kind of carbohydrate) and that I ate well in the days prior to the longer run and in the days prior to race day. I also made sure I got a good guzzle of sports drinks at drink stations on the run.

Race day

I was pretty nervous prior to the run because I had a niggling injury and I wasn’t overly confident of finishing it for that reason. But during the run I felt okay, tried to run sections of the race in certain times to get in under four hours, and finished in a around 3 hours 50 minutes. I was happy finishing. Relief, motel, sleep, bar – in that order.

Lessons learned

I think I learned the importance of building up physical activity slowly and taking care of your wheels (feet) and body with any kind of exercise.

I am doing a little running and a few sprints intervals but mostly weights as I lost 8-9 kg throughout my marathon training. When the dust settles with these toddlers, I will be locking one in again.

Follow Daniel @barefootdietitian for his insights on nutrition and health.

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