Zero to Hero – How to Prepare for the Melbourne Marathon in 5 Months

Pete Hunt

It’s just five months out from the Melbourne Marathon. This may seem daunting, but regardless of whether you’re a first timer* or an out-of-shape seasoned pro, you CAN get there in time. Here are some helpful hints from our team to help you on your way.

Get fitted for the right shoes

We advise being fitted in a specialist store where expert gait analysis can help guide you on the best shoe for your foot type and running gait. This will show you how much your foot pronates (turns in) when you run and give you an idea of how much arch support you need in your running shoes.

Comfort is king for runners, so ensure there is no friction, rubbing or pressure points. In terms of length, there should be one thumb-space between the longest toe and end of the shoe. And remember, if they don’t feel 100% comfortable in the store, they’re not going to feel too flash on an 18k training run!

Pro-tip: It’s definitely worth investing in a second pair of runners and alternating if you’ll be training on consecutive days.

Buddy up or join a running group

Running can be a solitary sport, but pairing up with a buddy or joining a running group will trigger your competitive spirit. And motivate you to turn up to training, even on those chilly winter mornings. Having a running buddy, or crew, by your side also makes those post-marathon celebrations even sweeter!

Book in for a biomechanical screening

To optimise your race time and make sure you make it to the finish line in one piece, see your Physiotherapist for a thorough biomechanical screening. At The Alignment Studio, we use the Functional Movement Screen (FMS) and Y Balance to identify any asymmetries or inefficient movement patterns that increase the likelihood of injury. This allows our physios to tailor a corrective exercise program that addresses your weakest areas.

Combine sprints, short and long runs

Training for a marathon, you’ll be running at least three to five times a week, gradually increasing your cumulative kms. One of these sessions should be your weekly long run. But that doesn’t mean you should only focus on distance. To avoid boredom and increase speed as well as endurance, it’s a good idea to incorporate sprint training into your schedule.

Look at your diet

Your energy requirements will change as you up your training sessions. Now is a good time to speak to a nutritionist to see how the right food can fuel your performance. In the lead up, and especially in the 24 hours before.

Schedule off-leg training days

It might seem like you should be spending every spare minute pounding the pavement, and give up all other workouts while training for a marathon. Not true. To run a marathon, you need a good level of fitness, strength, mobility, endurance and sheer grit, best obtained with a varied training plan.

Off-leg training days (bike/rower/Elliptical trainer) should be part of your marathon prep, as well as resistance/weight training, and working on good pelvic stability/gluteal and core strength.

Sign up for some practice races

It’s a good idea to book in a few shorter distance races – 10kms, half marathon etc – in the lead up to get you physically and mentally prepared. Especially if you’re a first timer!

Put on the brakes

We all know the saying ‘slow and steady wins the race’. This definitely applies to safely building up to a marathon. According to our Director, Pete: “I’m forever having to tell my patients that to get to the finish line they first have to get to the start line and if they over train/train incorrectly they won’t even get to start the race.” So, make sure to be patient and increase your training loads gradually.

Schedule plenty of recovery time

Each year, we see many people come into The Alignment Studio a month or two before the Melbourne Marathon with overuse injuries, such as shin splints, lower limb stress fractures, and tendinosis. Too many people forget that recovery is an important part of training!

To ace your race, make sure you allow enough recovery time between training runs. As a rule of thumb, we recommend a less experienced runner should aim to have an off-legs day between each run. Yoga is a great recovery day workout as it helps improve flexibility and hones that mind-body connection.

Book regular massages

Running can be tough on the body, so try to book in regular remedial massage sessions to reduce any muscle tightness. Massage also boosts circulation which helps to improve your range of motion and can reduce your risk of injury.

Roll it out

During your marathon training, a foam roller will be your best bud. Rolling, ideally when muscles are still warm, will relieve tightness and enhance recovery. Recovery compression tights can also help alleviate soreness after your longer runs.

Happy running!

*The Alignment Studio tip: If you’ve done very little running before, 5 months may be too ambitious to train safely for a full marathon. Discuss your plans with your health care team, and perhaps consider signing up for the 10k or half, and work up to next year’s event.