I've almost been running for a year - which I'm struggling to get my mind round I still feel very new to it all. I've accomplished so much in my first year of running but my proudest moment was crossing the Great North Run finish line.
So if you got inspired by Sunday's run I wanted to share some tips I've picked up along the way. I'm so glad I've ran the Great North Run but I'll never take part in it again. There was far too many people for me personally to enjoy it. But I do think it's something everyone should do at least once. I've put together my top 13 tips on training for the Great North Run.
1. A good pair of trainers is a must. This might sound obvious but I really recommend going to Start Fitness (I either go to Durham or Newcastle) and getting your feet properly looked at to see what pair of trainers are best suited for you. They don't always have to cost fortunes. I usually pay around £50/£60 for a pair but I've seen some that go up to £170.
2. A good training buddy. I'm very lucky that I have a fantastic bunch of running friends that kept me going durning the longer runs of training as I don't think I would have been able to manage 12 miles on my own. Not only are they good company but it's good motivation too. During the darker months it's easy to just come home from work and stay at home but if you have a friend relying on you to come out for a run it makes you get up and do it.
3. A good foot cream. I was lucky that I found Flexitol early on in my training. Your feet spend a long time in a pair of socks that are usually damp, either with sweat or from stepping in a puddle. After a shower I dry my feet completely then just before I jump into bed I smoother my feet in cream. Trust me the last thing you want is crusty feet.
4. I ran for so long without any real way of carrying my phone other than an arm band but when the weather got warmer this become very uncomfortable and a lot of my friends recommended a flipbelt. The flipbelt goes around your waist or hips with around 3 slots where you can put things in. This is the best piece of equipment I've ever bought. Incredibly comfortable around your waist. On the day of the GNR I packed my belt with toilet roll, hand sanitizer, jelly babies and my phone. I didn't even notice it was there and it stayed put for the whole 13.1 miles.
5. Find a training plan. I was lucky that my coach at my club issued me with a training plan. If you're looking for your own there are lots on the Internet and you can move the running days around to suit your lifestyle but it is important to have a plan. Don't worry too much if you wander off course (I did a lot) just try and maintain at least 3 runs a week and keep a long run for a Sunday. It's important to run on a Sunday as that is usually the day the day of any long distance run.
6. If you're running for a charity and get a charity vest practice running in that vest. You don't need to run every training run in your vest just at least one. To make sure it doesn't rub any where and it fits you.
7. Remember on race day you shouldn't try anything new. Stick to what you know. No new sock, trainers, underwear, sports bra or any new food or drink. I was offered a lot of gels at the start of the GNR but I'd never tried them before so I stayed well clear of them. Same as with drinks. Lucozade was offered at a few water stations on route. I trained a few times with Lucozade so was happy enough to take one.
8. On the race day take something to eat before you run. Now I didn't do this. I was so nervous on the morning of the GNR I couldn't eat my breakfast (which I had around 7am) but I didn't cross the start line till 11:15, ran for 2 hours then I ate 2 jelly babies. That's a long time for your body to go without food. I wish I'd brought myself a flapjack or anything to eat on the start line as I was starving by the time I reached the finish line. The food in the goodie bags was dreadful and the que at food stalls was unbelievable so I had a long wait till I got anything properly to eat. I won't be making that mistake again.
9. Get a good nights sleep a good few days before your event. I slept terribly the night before the GNR. My Fitbit said I only slept for 3 hours and 39 minutes. Which isn't enough. Ensure your body is well rested a few days before to avoid being too tired.
10. Invest in a running watch. Now this isn't essential. I know lots of people that have ran the GNR without one but for me it was an important part of my kit. I like to know how far I've ran, how far I've got to go and how quickly I'm going. There are mile markers at the GNR (like most events) but I just like to know how far I am into a mile and it gave me something to work out how far to go. I won't run any event without my watch now. Make sure your battery is fully charged before race day as someone who crossed the finish line the same time as me Garmin had died at mile 10.
11. Don't stress before race day. Now this is much easier said than done. I'd done a lot of training but I was so scared I wouldn't be able to finish the race which of course is ridiculously. I came across the finish line and still had a good few miles left in my legs. The atmosphere was incredible and I don't think I'll ever get that again at any half marathon. The crowd cheer you on like you're in the olmpics and it keeps you going. I promise you will be fine.
12. If you are raising money for a charity don't just post your charity link on Facebook, tell people how training is going. Take lot's of selfie's while you're out running and keep people updated even if you're having a bad few weeks.
13. But the most important piece of advice I could give you is enjoy the experience, I absolutely loved training for the Great North Run and I have my next half marathon in 3 weeks time.
Nothing will ever feel as good as when you cross that finish line. Nothing could have wiped the smile from my face on Sunday or Monday. I am feeling a little bit stiff but nothing a little bit of walking won't sort out.
So has anyone been inspired? Or do you have any tips you think I may have missed?
13 Tips on Training for The Great North Run