Let’s be honest – 26 miles is a long way to drive in a car, let alone run! A marathon is the true test of physical and mental endurance. The race itself is actually the easy bit  – it’s the months of training that’s the hard going. 

If you’ve ever found yourself training alone, here are some tips for covering all those training miles alone:

Pick the right plan
There are loads of free training plans on the internet.  Typical training time for a marathon is around 12-16 weeks.  I was a late entry and entered with just 8 weeks to go so I wrote my own plan.  I wasn’t starting from zero fitness, so 3 weeks of increased mileage followed by a recovery week, then a further 3 week increase then taper.  Everyone is different if you follow a plan and find you can’t keep up with it then adapt it to suit you. 

Throw in some cross training

Bored of running? Switch for a cycle or a swim.  I’ve learnt this time around that strength work is very important.  A weaker right side has caused knee problems – squats and wall sits have been really good and helping with this.  Monday morning yoga is fabulous for stretching out after that long weekend run.. 

A cracking playlist
You’re going to be out there a long time on your own, fill your iPod with all your favourite songs or a podcast or an audio book.  Next week I may chuck in a language CD – may as well learn Italian as I run…

Going round in circles
My biggest fear is injuring myself or not being able to go on and being stuck miles away from home on my own. Also, where I live isn’t that big, unless I head onto remote country roads alone.  So, I have been running a 4 mile loop over and over.  I’ve not gone crazy – I promise! My knee has been playing up and I didn’t want to be too far away from home in case it completely packed in.   Also, it’s the loop I normally run, so in my head, it seems less daunting than a long run.

Play it safe
Running solo can be dangerous.  Always tell someone where and when you are running and for how long.  This can be as easy as sharing tour location via WhatsApp so people know where you are when you should be back, some apps even have live tracking.   Always wear reflective gear so you are seen at all times.  If running on country roads – please ditch the headphones.  Passing cars don’t always slow down and they will get too close for comfort. 

Always works with me. ‘If I run 16 miles on my own I can…’ (insert bribe here). 
Usually, it’s a small treat like have a filter coffee rather than an instant or use nice stuff in the bath (Molton Brown / Elemis, if you are reading this… hi, I’m a really big fan). 

My reward for running it? I’ve booked the following week off work!