There’s nothing more awe-inspiring than an athelete who puts themselves on the line and gives it their all for charity. This especially true when, if you’re like me, you’ve only just barely completed the ‘From The Couch To 5K’ programme before progressing on to that most daunting of prospects: the marathon. 26 miles and 385 yards.
It’s a terribly long way, especially if you’re not a gifted runner. Ladies and gentlemen of the internet, I am not a gifted runner. When it comes to training, I am all sweat and teeth. But I managed it, I made it happen and you can too. Here are some top tips for people who want to make a difference but maybe aren’t quite Olympic standards yet.
- Make sure you’ve got the proper gear
It’s absolutely crucial that you take your outfit seriously. I say this not only as a committed devotee to the tenets of ‘Clueless’ but also as an athlete. There is nothing you will regret so heartily as embarking on a long-distance run without the proper shoes and clothing. Make sure you’ve got well-fitted specialist running shoes which are designed to support and cushion your feet. Make sure you got to a sporting goods store and have your feet tested so that if you have any weaknesses (shin splints, pronated feet etc.) then your running gear can compensate. Look at the following checklist and make sure you’ve got the following in your bag of tricks:
- Aforementioned proper shoes
- Well ventilated sports gear
- Sports bra (CRUCIAL, if you’re a woman, even if you don’t usually wear a bra, trust me to infinity, if you want your breasts to remain in the general vicinity they currently occupy)
- Nipple cream. Let me just say this again because it’s so important.
- Nipple cream. You’re going to be running for many hours and let me tell you, no matter how soft and specialist your clothing, severe nipple chafing does happen and it is not pretty. You can use creams formulated for the purpose or even, in a pinch, good old fashioned Vaseline.
- Jelly Babies. Now, after a few hours of running, your body needs to replenish its store of glycogen, as it can only hold 2,000 kcal at any given time. It’s important to pack high GI (Glycemic Index) food that can be absorbed quickly into the bloodstream. Sports nutritionist advocate oranges, bananas, isotonic sports drinks or dried fruit. Myself, I am a huge fan of jelly babies. After a few hours of running, I want to BITE SOMETHING’S HEAD OFF.
- A quality bum bag. Or running belt. People say running belt now, but trust me, they’re just ergonomic fanny packs. You will need a place to store your water, gel packs and the crucial jelly babies. Just as important is a place to keep your MP3 player. Oh yes, the MP3 player is a crucial weapon in the battle against failure of spirit.
- A Quality Playlist. Well, again, there are plenty of people who abstain from music on these endurance runs. Indeed, there’s something to be said for having all your sense working at optimum levels, as it certainly protects you from the possibility of being barged from the periphery. Although frankly, if you’re anything like me, the possibility of people being behind you is fairly limited. I live for bringing up the rear. With that in mind, I totally rock out to my playlist. I thoroughly recommend Beyonce’s ‘Run The World (Girls)’ as your starter track, no matter what your gender, Beyonce speaks to your soul. Plus it’s got some killer syncopation that works a kind of magic on the feet. With Queen B and her post-apocalyptic dancers on my side, I truly began to believe I could kick ass and pass the finish line. And you can too. We run this mother effing world. And when we run for charity, we can change it too.
Carrie Stevenson writes about charity jobs for Third Sector Jobs. She has a marathon participant’s medal. She wears it on weekends.