Yoga for Runners

Yoga for Runners

Yoga is the perfect solution for a runner's recovery, both physically and mentally. A simple but regular yoga routine will release tight muscles, increase range of motion, improve flexibility and make you an injury-free running machine! 

Yoga is the perfect solution for a runner's recovery, both physically and mentally. A simple but regular yoga routine will release tight muscles, increase range of motion, improve flexibility and make you an injury-free running machine! 

The best part? It won’t take long and it has beneficial long term effects - you might even find the mental gains of yoga start to overtake the physical ones! (But we’ll take both thanks). 

Fitting yoga into your running routine

At the end of the day, the best yoga for runners is the yoga routine you commit to.

Most runners are already in the groove with their training schedule, but the idea of stretching - let alone stretching those hammies - sends chills down the spine. We hear you, but you could be missing out on some worthwhile benefits for your recovery and mental stamina.

Yoga for runners is beneficial for both body and mind. Whether it’s a pre run or post run yoga routine, this physical practise focuses on lengthening and strengthening the muscles, as well as improving stability, balance and coordination. 

Plus, a steady rhythm of breath is key for a successful run - and this is the same for yoga. Relaxed breathing even when moments are challenging is a super power, this is what builds resilience and mental stamina. 

So, where to begin? The golden rule is to keep it simple. 

8 yoga poses for runners

Feast your eyes on eight yoga poses that will stretch your body, calm your mind and have you feeling rested and recuperated. 

  1. Downward Dog 

 A downward dog a day keeps the injuries away! 

This grounding yoga pose is a great inversion for lengthening the back of the legs and spine. You can do these pre-run and post-run. Try walking your heels one by one into the floor for an extra calf stretch!

Stretches and strengthens:
Calves, hamstrings, abdominal muscles, upper body; back and shoulders. 

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with hands underneath shoulders and knees in line with hips. Lift hips to the sky. 
  • Keep everything active. Draw the navel to your spine and the rib cage in (abdominal lock). Aim for straight legs (we know this can be tough in the beginning, so a bend in the knees is fine and soon you’ll develop greater hamstring flexibility). 
  • The intention is to send your heels to the ground. The more you practise the better you’ll get.  

Tip: The abdominal lock (known as uddiyana bandha in yoga terms) strengthens the core and this makes this pose more effective.

  1. Runners Lunge 

Give a warm welcome to your hip flexors! They’ll be so grateful to find you performing a runners lunge. 

Remember, your hip flexors want to be lengthened as well as strengthened! Over-stretching is not the answer, but it is a good idea post run. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hip flexors, hamstrings, quad, it bands (lateral thigh).  Improves knee and ankle mobility. 

How to:

  • From a quadruped position place the right foot in between the hands. Keep hands in line with shoulders. 
  • Lift the left knee off of the ground and straighten the leg. Pay extra attention to keeping the leg straight and find tension in the left glute to support the lumbar spine. 
  • Keep an upright spine with the chest proudly forwards and shoulders away from the ears. 
  • Imagine breathing into the hip flexors and keep the crown of the head lifted towards the sky. 

Tip: You can do this dynamically as part of a pre run yoga routine or after a run by holding the pose for longer with slow breathes. 

  1. Revolved Low Lunge with quad stretch

Let’s bring the quads to the party. The quadriceps are a group of muscles located on the anterior of the leg and they can get super tight with lots of running and exercise. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hip flexors, hamstrings, quads, shoulders, spine. 

How to:

  • As above, but with a twist! Keep the left hand on the floor and in line with the left shoulder. Drop the left knee to the ground. 
  • Rotate the spine to the right and reach your right hand to the sky. 
  • Bend the left knee and reach for the left ankle. Pull the left foot toward the body. Be sure to keep the glutes engaged and breathe to move deeper into the pose. If you can’t reach your ankle yet, try using a strap or lean your foot against a wall for support. 

Tip: As you twist, encourage a deeper flow of breath into the body to generate fresh blood and oxygen to the spine. 

  1. Saddle pose (Double or Single leg)

In case the revolved lunge didn’t quite hit the spot, we can bet this stretch will. Saddle isn’t for the faint hearted, but worth every whimper. 

Usually found in yin yoga sequences which include more passive holds. Yin yoga for runners is another excellent option for relieving tight muscles and encourages stillness. 

Note: Take extra care if you’ve had any prior injury to the knees. Be sure to use props to elevate if necessary.  

Stretches and strengthens:
Quads, hip flexors, psoas, anterior core, ankle and knee mobility, shins, increases flexibility in the lower back.   

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with glutes to heels in a Hero pose. (If not possible, place a small towel underneath the knees to create more space, or sit on something to elevate the hips). 
  • Untuck and extend the right leg straight along the floor. Press hands into the floor and lift hips up to find a posterior pelvic tilt.  Slowly make your way down onto the forearms or possibly onto your back into a Reclined Hero pose.
  • For something deeper, try both legs bent and then reach arms up over head. Remember to breathe deeply and keep a posterior pelvic tilt.
  • To come out, roll to the side of the straight leg or tuck the chin and use forearms to push up gently.

Tip: Take it slow as you move into this deep back extension, be sure to keep the navel active; pull in and up to the spine (remember the abdominal lock) and maintain a posterior pelvic tilt. 

  1. Reclined Pigeon 

Lay back, relax and get all the goodness of a glute stretch in a supine position. You can use this as a warm up or cool down pose. 

Stretches: glutes, hips, hamstrings, piriformis.

How to:

  • Lie on your back with knees parallel and feet hip distance apart. Cross right ankle over left thigh. 
  • Reach through the gap in the legs and hold the hamstring of the left thigh. Use your right elbow to push the right knee away and then slowly draw the legs closer towards the chest using the breath. Keep the head on the mat. 

Tip: Holding this supine pose for a longer period of time can help with hip-opening and decompresses the lower spine which can help relieve any nasty back pain symptoms or dull aches and pains in the lower spine. 

  1. Reclined big toe pose 

Your hammies might be upset with you at first, but with practise this one will become your best friend. 

This is one of the best yoga poses for runners as it allows fresh blood to travel down towards the hips and improves flexibility of the hips and lower back. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Hamstrings, quads, calves, abdominal wall. Improves blood flow to legs and hips. 

How to: 

  • Lie in a supine position with both legs extended along the floor. Keep your head on the floor the whole time. Lift the right leg up to the ceiling. Use a strap to go around the flexed right foot (or if possible, hold the big toe). 
  • Straighten the leg as much as possible. A slight bend of the knee is okay as you work on the hamstring flexibility. Go steady. Take deep breaths and with every exhale gently pull the leg closer towards you. Keep this active. 

Tip: This pose is done best with the abdominal lock. Pull the tummy in to tighten the abdominal muscles to strengthen them and also keep them firm! Win win. 

  1. Supine spinal twist pose 

This grounding pose calms the body and mind. Perfect post run. The abdominal twist also stimulates digestion by massaging the organs. 

Relax your lower back and encourage spinal health with this reclined twist. 

Stretches and strengthens:
Spine, lower back, glutes, pecs. 

How to: 

  • Lie on the side with hips stacked and knees in line with hips. Arms are extended along the floor and in line with shoulders.  
  • Hold the knees so they stay stacked. Reach the top arm above the head and then behind to create a twist in the spine. 
  • Hold the arm behind to get a stretch in the chest and breathe slowly. 

Tip: Hold the arm behind for three to four breathes to get a deeper stretch across the pecs. 

  1. Child Pose 

Last but not least, child pose. Almost everybody’s favourite. This position brings the heart rate back to normal and is considered a restorative pose. 

Stretches and strengthens: 

Lower and upper spine, lats, hips. 

How to: 

  • Start kneeling with glutes to heels. (If not possible, place a small towel underneath the knees to create more space, or sit on something to elevate the hips). 
  • Place knees mat width apart and fold forward. Go as far as feels comfortable. Rest your head on the floor or a prop. 
  • Let your belly relax and your diaphragm expand as you breathe deeply into your lower spine. 

Tip: For an extra lat stretch reach the left hand slightly over to the left and place the right hand on top. Repeat on the other side. Enjoy this one - it’s a goodie! 

So, why should you include yoga in your running training routine?

  • It’s great for pre run and post run because it uses both active and passive stretching. 
  • What sets yoga apart from simply ‘stretching’ is the emphasis on breathing and its meditative qualities.
  • Many yoga routines also include balancing exercises which greatly improve coordination, core stability and neuroplasticity.

And remember: 

  • We love props! Use them whenever you need to, whether you’re a beginner or intermediate. They create space and support your joints.  
  • Though we recommend yoga as the best recovery, a pre-run yoga routine that includes dynamic stretches and balancing exercises would be beneficial too. 

Here’s to you and all your future running and yoga-ing. You’ve got this! 

Average Half Marathon Time

The big half: what's a good half marathon time?

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Just signed up for a half marathon? You’ve navigated your way here, so chances are you’re at least thinking about it. 

Maybe you’re on the hunt for some stats before committing 100%? Though we’d argue a ‘good’ marathon time is different for everyone, getting your head around average pacing and overall times can be useful when setting goals and figuring out your training plan. 

So, let's start with the basics…how far is a half marathon?

A half marathon is 13.1 miles, that’s roughly 21km. Your time will depend on a number of variants, including your age, fitness level, and chosen route.  

How long does it take to train for a half marathon?

Most half marathon training plans span 10-12 weeks, though it is possible to condense these down to 8 weeks if you find yourself a little short on time.  

What is the average half marathon time in the UK?

In the UK, the average half marathon time is 2:02:43. Now if you’re a total beginner, this probably seems ambitious…

So, what is a good time for your first half marathon?

For first-timers, getting over the finish line anywhere between 2:20:00 and 3:00:00 is a great goal to aim for and with 10-12 weeks of training, it’s totally achievable. 

What is a good time for intermediate half marathon runners?

For intermediate runners (i.e. regular runners! This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve completed a half marathon before) sub 2 hours is a popular goal. 

What is a good time for elite half marathon runners?

When it comes to elite goals, times vary between male and female times. For men, elite times generally fall between 1:10:00 and 1:30:00. For women, they sit somewhere between 1:20:00 and 1:40:00. 

What is the half marathon world record for men?

The fastest-ever half marathon time was recorded in November 2021 at the Lisbon Half Marathon. Ugandan athlete Jacob Kiplimo set the new world record when he crossed the finish line at 57:31. Yikes!

What is the half marathon world record for women?

The women’s world record is held by Ethiopian athlete Letesenbet Gidey. In October 2021 she completed the Valencia Half Marathon in 1:02:52. 

What is the average time it takes to run a half marathon?

We’ve covered overall times, but what about pacing? 

On average in the UK, male half marathoners keep a pace of 8.96 mins per mile (that’s 5.57 mins per kilometre) while female runners keep a 10.29 mins per mile pace, (that’s 6.40 mins per kilometre). 

Now you’ve got an idea of what your goal should be, the next step is planning to make sure you reach it. 

3 Tips for Improving Your Half Marathon Time

  1. Perfect Your Pacing

The half marathon will test you physically and mentally. While focusing on your anaerobic fitness is a must, a lot of runners spend too much time trying to improve their stamina and not enough time perfecting their splits. 

Pacing is a mental game - it can be tempting, particularly in race conditions, to blitz through your first mile at a pace you’re never going to be able to maintain. But doing so will only leave you gasping for breath and struggling to make it over the finish line. 

The best way to ensure this doesn’t happen is to run even splits. Decide on a comfortable race pace, and stick to it from start to finish. Doing so will ensure you stay below your lactate threshold, and reduce the risk of early fatigue and heavy legs. 

  1. Hit the Gym

If you’re trying to avoid injury, strength training is non-negotiable. 1-2 days a week in the gym will also help you run faster and more efficiently, by improving your muscular coordination, power, mobility, and stride. 

  1. Follow a Training Plan

Consistency is key when it comes to achieving your running goals and the best way to stay consistent is by following a training plan. They provide structure and ensure your workouts are tailored towards reaching your goal. 

There are hundreds of coach-approved plans available for free online.

Which half marathon should I choose?

The UK has so many amazing half-marathon events to choose from, it just depends on what you’re looking for…

For the nervous newbie

Hackney Half
Not just a race, this iconic event is a full-on festival. A guaranteed good time with a fast, flat route and on-course entertainment, this run is the perfect entry-level race.  

Hackney Half Marathon

Great Manchester Run

One of the world’s biggest half marathon events, this unforgettable experience is a true gem in the racing calendar. The city shuts down to accommodate the massive crowds, meaning the route is always lined with cheering spectators, music zones and ample aid stations. 

Great Manchester Run

For the escape artist

Run Tatton Half Marathon

If you’re looking for something a little more low-key, but still beautifully scenic, Run Tatton is the perfect choice. Set in rural Cheshire, participants are invited to run the flat, wildlife-studded course as fast or as easy as they like. 

Run Tatton Half Marathon

Brett Lyd Half Marathon

Explore the beautiful flat marsh landscape surrounding Lydd in Kent on this rural, out-and-back course. Popular for its supportive, social atmosphere, this half marathon is an excellent choice for first-timers. 

Brett Lydd Half Marathon

For the hill lover

The Maverick Adidas Terrex Original Oxfordshire

Swap the roads for trails in the gorgeous Oxfordshire countryside. Set in the picturesque Chiltern Hills, this 21k course definitely isn’t flat, but what it lacks in ease it makes up for in views.

Maverick Oxfordshire Half Marathon

How should beginners train for a marathon?

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

In our experience, the post London Marathon ballot day leaves us either feeling totally amped to get training or seriously disappointed about missing out. If you’re in the disappointed camp, time to set your sights on something else.

Find your marathon

For those raring to go ahead of marathon day, this post will give you the lowdown on everything you need to get through your marathon-whether it’s your first or you’re prepping for a PB.

So, how long does it take to train for a marathon?

Generally speaking it can take anywhere between 12 to 24 weeks to train for a marathon–depending on your fitness level and how regularly you already run. 

There are plenty of marathon training plans out there, but to begin with it can all seem very overwhelming. 

Your first step is to decide on your goals and work out whether they are attainable. Do you currently run 3 days a week? Then don’t choose a training plan that wants you to be running 6 days a week–your body will be overwhelmed with all the extra mileage and you’ll most likely get injured. 

While you’ll be excited to start running further distances, try to trust the process and listen to your body. The risks of not increasing your mileage sensibly could end in a trip to the physio and your marathon plans in the balance. 

To avoid this, make sure to book your marathon well in advance and set aside a good few weeks of light, easy running to begin to increase your mileage before starting your training plan. 

TOP TIP:  When building up your mileage you should be increasing it by 10% each week at the very most. This is so your body can acclimate to the extra strain of the added distance.  If you’re a complete beginner, try to book your marathon 6 months to a year in advance to ensure you have plenty of time to prepare. 

Do I need to run the marathon distance before I run a marathon? 

This one’s completely up to you, but most coaches and training plans strongly advise against it. If you’re aiming for a specific time (especially if it’s not your first marathon), the most you may want to run in training is around 22-24 miles.

How to pace for a marathon 

One thing you definitely should be doing is running at your marathon goal pace.

For example, if you want to run the marathon in 4 hours, you should be adding marathon pace mileage into your runs in accordance to that time. 

A good way of doing this is to add pacing into your longer runs. For example you could run 1 hour at an easy pace with the last 30 minutes at your goal marathon pace. This type of run is a great way to prepare your body and acclimatise to the pace that you’ll be aiming for during the race. 

Do I need to be running races in the lead up to a marathon?

It’s a great idea to get a feel for racing before you tackle a marathon race.

If you’re following a 16 week training plan, it’s worth racing once a month as you slowly increase your distance. The week of your races you should be aiming to run less distance to ensure you’re ready for the higher intensity of the race..

For example after the first 4 weeks, you could try your local park run or a 5k race. Experiencing multiple race days will help get your legs prepared for running longer distances at your goal marathon pace (or faster if you’re having a good day!) and your mind prepped for dealing with the excitement of the day. 

After your 5k race you can then begin to increase your mileage further for 3 weeks and then tackle a 10k race

You can treat these races as a rehearsal for your marathon in more ways than just aiming for a higher intensity workout. You’ll get used to running in a crowd, pick up tricks for establishing your toilet routine, work out how your body functions on long and exciting runs, and learn what pre-race fuel works well for you.

Half marathon training runs

A perfect way to test out your fueling is by doing a half marathon. A half marathon is the perfect distance and duration for testing out how to fuel well during a race, as most guidance suggests that you should be eating on any run above 12k.

What fuel do I need to use during a marathon?

During a marathon, nutrition is key. You should be practicing fuelling correctly on training runs as well as in your races leading up to the marathon

A general rule of thumb in a marathon is to start fueling 1 hour into your race, and then every half an hour after the first hour. Remember everyone is different and it is up to you to decide how much fuel you need.

What to eat during a half marathon

Many runners use electrolyte gels. Gels contain a high concentration of carbohydrates and sugars to keep you going. There are plenty of brands out there to try, and best of all you can fit two or three in a running bum bag or a zipped pocket in your running shorts. 

If you don’t like gels there are plenty of alternatives, such as sweets as well as nutritional snacks like nuts that work in the same way. Ultimately, everyone is different, so it’s essential to make sure you test out your fuel to see what works. 

Ultimately, whether you’re taking on your first or fiftieth marathon, it’s an incredible achievement and a truly memorable experience. By preparing and thinking about your mileage, training plans, nutrition and race technique, you’ll help to make sure you can get the most out of your marathon experience.

Happy training!

Pacing London Marathon|||Pacing band

Pacing London: what it's like to pace London Marathon

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

You don’t need to be a fast runner to work at Let’s Do This, but that doesn’t stop Let’s Do This data scientist, Simon Wright, from running sub 3 hour marathons in his spare time.

A 2:53:20 marathoner, triathlete and enthusiastic orienteer-er, Simon added yet another string to his bow this month when he paced the 2022 London Marathon.

Read on to hear from Simon himself about his experience as a London Marathon pacer – and how you could get involved too!

Becoming a London Marathon pacer

I like running. But I love maths*. So maybe it’s unsurprising that I found myself drawn to the prospect of pacing for races. 

I first got involved in pacing very informally last year, pacing a couple of my colleagues to 10k PBs. After that, I decided to give it a go officially this year at the London Landmarks Half Marathon, managing to soak up the atmosphere while leading around a hardy band of 20 runners to a 1:45 finish. And what better place to look to replicate that feeling than at the London Marathon?

In June, I found out that I’d been selected to pace the race at 3:15, the top end of my three suggested times, which would be a challenge!

So, what is pacing?

The premise is very simple: it’s very common for runners to get very excited on the day of a big race and fly off the line.

Wouldn’t it be great not to have to worry about a burst of adrenaline threatening your race from the off? That’s where pacers come in, to run a consistent pace for the whole race to give you one less thing to worry about.

Preparing to pace

In the run-up to the race, I tuned up with some practice pacing at Wimbledon Common parkrun (mostly successfully!) and then again at The Big Half, getting some experience pacing in a crowded atmosphere.

The most important thing is to make sure you hit the splits. Not going faster than the splits, not “banking time” in case things go wrong, but running at almost exactly the target split the whole time. I did a lot of 6-8 mile runs at this target pace to try and lock in that feeling, so it would be natural on race day.

Race day

Race morning was a 5:30am start. Despite the fact that I had to be at the start earlier than most, there were still plenty of other nervous-looking runners eating breakfast on the train to Blackheath. I went for two bagels with peanut butter and a banana, which is nothing new for me on race day, just slightly more than normal!

By 8am all 76 pacers were congregated in a function room in a hotel to talk through the final bits of logistics. We’d been told to be quiet on the way there as people in the hotel might be asleep, but I think the steel drummer at the front door had already taken care of that! All that was left to do was pick up our flags and our lifelines: the pacing bands (a piece of paper with the split time at every mile) and a 5k board to wear round our wrist to check our progress. Even my maths gets a bit suspect when tired at mile 24!

Pacing band

It wasn’t until I walked to the start that I appreciated the vastness of the event. Over 40,000 people from all over the world at the start line, all nervously waiting to take on the same 26.2 mile challenge, hoping that the forecast wind and rain wouldn’t materialise. After a paradoxically short wait that felt like forever in the pen finding a small crew who were in for 3:15, we were off. 

Ready, set, pace!

Strangely, the first couple of miles are a couple of the hardest when pacing – it’s very easy to get swept along with the adrenaline of the masses!

This is particularly true in London as there’s a decent downhill section in the first three miles, so you can get well ahead of schedule. There were no issues this time, getting into the habit of checking the watch at the mile board – 11 seconds ahead at 4 miles, perfect.

The first half of the race was spent chatting to the runners who were following us, most of them raising money for various charities, ticking off the miles and soaking in the atmosphere around Greenwich, Rotherhithe, and the crowd on Tower Bridge. 

After we came through half-way 35 seconds up–just as planned–we saw the elite men come the other direction. You can’t help but feel a surge of energy from how quickly they’re still going, 22 miles in! 

Sadly over the next 8 miles, most of our original pace group dropped off one by one, still running fantastic times but not quite able to hold the pace. It’s one of the hardest things about pacing, you have to keep going exactly on schedule, and can’t adjust to help people who you’ve been running with for the past 2 hours.

The last 5 miles of the London Marathon are spectacular. I was lucky enough to run the Boston Marathon earlier this year, and the crowds at London may have been even bigger and louder than there. It seemed there was constant noise from Tower Hill, down the Embankment and carrying everyone the whole way to the finish line. 

Personally it was quite nice to have worked hard but not feel on the absolute limit in the last few miles, soaking it all in as I picked up a few runners who had faded a bit in the middle but were finishing strong.

I crossed the line in 3 hours, 14 minutes and 37 seconds. 

It’s always a relief to stop the watch on the line and realise you’ve managed to pace the race well. Afterwards I managed to catch up with a couple of the runners who had been in the group for the first couple of hours who had still managed to run big Personal Bests – this is why we pace!

How to get into pacing

I’d highly recommend pacing as a totally unique way to experience events. 

It’s not quite as tiring (at least not physically) as racing and often you get even more of the atmosphere – mainly because you’re so identifiable and the crowd love cheering for the pacer! It’s also a great way to meet and speak to lots of interesting runners.

Pacing is for everyone – at London there were pacers for finish times from 3 hours through to 7 hours 30 minutes. Provided you can keep going at the pace and you’re friendly and encouraging to everyone around you, you can be involved! 

If you are interested,  there are sites you can volunteer with that provide pacers for races across the country. Alternatively, Google events you're interested in racing and see if they have pacer opportunities.

As for me, I’m hoping to race the 2023 London Marathon, but I’m already considering my 2024 pace application!

*Maths skills are not required to pace!

If all that pacing chat got you excited about taking on a big city race for yourself, check out our full list of marathons, and start training for your own incredible race day experience.

Browse marathons

person preparing to start a run

How to Start Running: Training for Beginners

If you’re thinking about how to get into running, there’s no better time to start. Running offers incredible health benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher lung capacity and improved mental health.

If you’re thinking about how to get into running, there’s no better time to start. Running offers incredible health benefits, including lower blood pressure, higher lung capacity and improved mental health.

It’s also totally flexible: no gym memberships, expensive sports equipment or pressure to find teammates. All you need is the open road and a good pair of shoes.

How to train as a runner

You can start training no matter what your experience or fitness levels. For example, you might be worried about how to start running when overweight. Go slow, building yourself up, even if it’s just for five minutes.

A great place to start is to choose a running goal.

Choose your running goal

One of the most important tips on how to start running is to find your motivation. A running goal – be it time, distance or a particular race – will keep you driven. 

Be patient. It’s great to think about how to start training for a marathon, but you’ll need to nail 5K first. Once you’ve hit your first goal, start moving the goalposts. Set yourself a routine such as three runs per week.

How to get started running

Like any sport, running requires practice. You might choose the run-walk method, for example. As you progress, you’ll learn more about the ins and out of your personal fitness and running form.

Whether you use the couch-to-5k method or slowly increase your distance each time, you’ll also discover when running works best for you. The key is to keep it consistent – but you can also make it easier and more enjoyable with these running tips.

Find your ideal running form

Everybody has a different “running form”. Some people lead with the ball of their feet or toes – known as “forefoot strike”. Some land midfoot or neutrally, while others “heel strike”.

Whatever your style, if you’re not experiencing injuries, well done – you’re doing it right!

Try running barefoot on a soft surface and study how your foot lands. You can also try a gait analysis at your local sports shop. 

Pick your running gear

If there is one piece of advice for how to start running, it’s never to race with anything new. Champion Eliud Kipchoge learned this the hard way at the 2015 Berlin Marathon. He took to the race in new shoes. He still won but missed the record due to his soles slipping out.

Have your feet analysed when buying running shoes. This will tell you if your arches are high, low or neutral. Some shoes may be designed for ‘overpronation’ or ‘supination’ (bending inwards or outwards) but always ask a professional.

You may have to cycle through a few pairs. Stick to no more than 500 miles per pair to prevent injury.

You should also trial shorts, sleeves versus bare arms, and running aids like compression socks. 

Do you like to carry water, or can you go with a running belt? Practice makes perfect. 

Choose your running playlist

Music has been proven to elevate mood and endurance – so pick songs you like! 

Generally, tracks between 120 and 140BPM are ideal (think Lady Gaga, J-Lo, Metallica). But if you’re looking for a mood enhancer, you may also enjoy pounding the pavement to your favourite podcasts.

Timing devices

Fitness watches are great for tracking your progress. They vary enormously depending on what you want to track – is it just distance, or are you looking for bodily metrics like heart rate and lung capacity? The Garmin Forerunner 55 is perfect for beginners.

Hydration and nutrition

You are what you eat, so make sure you fuel correctly. Staying hydrated is key, particularly with long distances. As a guide, you should aim for 300-800ml of fluids per hour of exercise. Add isotonic sports drinks to replenish key salts during long races.

The best foods for runners take some trial and error, but generally, complex carbohydrates are ideal. Give yourself at least two hours to digest before a long run, and test foods such as:

  • Bananas
  • Overnight oats
  • Peanut butter

Carbohydrates are essential but you cannot overlook protein. If you’re doing long distances, you may also want to cycle different energy gels.

How to prevent running injuries

The majority of running injuries come from doing too much, too fast. Common complaints for beginners include:

  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Achilles tendonitis
  • Shin splints
  • Stress fractures.


A strong warmup and cooldown are essential to prevent running injury. Try dynamic stretches while warming up, such as lunges and leg swings. When cooling down, try hamstring, quadricep and calf stretches. 

You can also add yoga to your routine to improve strength and posture. Remember – if you’re feeling pain, don’t try to run through it!

Go at your own pace

Whether you’re a couch-to-5Ker or a marathoner, every journey starts with a single step. Start slow and listen to your body. 

Before you know it, you’ll be craving that infamous “runner’s high” – and you’ll get it!

person running 5k

Couch to 5K: Kickstart Your Running Routine

If you’re looking to lace-up and get running but not sure where to begin, then download a Couch to 5K app and consider yourself officially at the start line. Stick with it and in just nine weeks, you’ll be racing past the finish line as you graduate as a 5K runner. 

If you’re looking to lace-up and get running but not sure where to begin, then download a Couch to 5K app and consider yourself officially at the start line. Stick with it and in just nine weeks, you’ll be racing past the finish line as you graduate as a 5K runner. 

The Couch to 5K plan — often abbreviated to C25K – will have even the slothiest sofa lovers up and running in no time. Plus, with a whole army of apps to choose from, often narrated by some of the world’s best-loved celebs, you’ll feel like you’re being cheered along by your coolest best friend. 

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What is Couch to 5k?

Couch to 5K is a running program for complete beginners. It was developed by a guy called Josh Clark who was himself, a running newbie. He invented the Couch to 5K plan to get himself running. 

After publishing the C25K program to his website, couch potatoes across the world began to adopt the plan and it went viral. Today, there’s an estimated 50 million runners who have completed the popular running program. With its ability to seriously kick-start a running routine for even the most slovenly of couch potatoes, it’s no surprise the 0 to 5K method has become so popular. 

How does Couch to 5k work?

The Couch to 5K plan works by offering a gentle introduction to getting the body moving. The classic Couch to 5K schedule consists of three runs each week for nine weeks, with a rest day in between. The runs are really easy to begin with and gradually increase in intensity, as you’re s-l-o-w-l-y  eased from sofa to 5K running superstar. 

You’ll start in week one with eight, 60-second runs; each one broken up with 90 seconds of walking in between. From there, the app (if you choose to use one), will guide you through as you gradually build the walks into runs. By the end of week five, you’ll have your first, uninterrupted 20-minute run and by week nine, you’ll be completing 30-minute runs. 

Promising to keep you engaged from first step to final cool-down, there’s a different schedule for each of the nine weeks; gathering in intensity as you build your way up to becoming a fully-fledged 5K runner. Each Couch to 5K session gets you moving with a brisk, five-minute warm up. 

Stretching is always recommended before and after each time you train for Couch to 5K.

Who is Couch to 5k for?

The Couch to 5K program is for anyone who wants to learn how to run 5K - that’s 5000 metres, or 3.1 miles. Maybe you’re a complete beginner and need the motivation to get started? Couch to 5K is for you. 

Perhaps you used to run all the time, but now feel out of practice? Download a Couch to 5K app and get back into running. Using an effective mix of walks and gentle runs, a C25K plan is accessible for every level of runner. 

What are the benefits of the couch to 5k plan?

The Couch to 5K program comes with a host of benefits. As you build up to completing 5K runs, you’ll mix running and walking. These spurts of interval training are great for boosting your heart and lung health as well as your overall physical health. 

Once you’re a confident 5K runner, your runs will boost your cardiovascular health, strengthen your muscles and burn calories. Plus, if stress relief and happy hormones are on your agenda, the Couch to 5K program ticks all these boxes, too. We never met a post-run endorphin we didn’t like!

Note: Once you’ve caught the 5K running bug, it can be addictive. You’re likely to want to carry on to 10K runs and beyond. 

How long does it take to complete a Couch to 5k?

Each Couch to 5K training session lasts between 20 to 30 minutes (don’t forget to factor in time for stretching). You’ll be training for three days a week, over nine weeks. After that, you can consider yourself 5K-ready. 

Why is the Couch to 5k plan so popular?

There’s so many factors that have led to the popularity of the Couch to 5K plan. First off, it’s accessible. All you need is a decent pair of trainers and you’re ready to go. Beginning with bite-sized running intervals, anyone can attempt it and it can actually get pretty addictive.

Secondly, thanks to its unstructured approach to training, the C25K method offers an easy way to achieve the 5K running goal; you’re literally guided along the route, every step of the way. It’s foolproof. 

Thirdly, it doesn’t take much time. There’s no excuses. With each session lasting around 20 to 30 minutes, three times a week, a Couch to 5K training plan can slide pretty easily into even the busiest schedules. 

And finally, there’s a solid goal at the end of it. Who doesn’t want to smash a goal? There’s a great sense of achievement that comes with completing the Couch to 5K running program, as can be noted from the popularity of this viral training method.  

What should I do after the Couch to 5k program?

Got the bug? If all that running has got you craving more, we’ve rounded up three ideas on what to do once you’ve celebrated your 5K runner status. 

3 running ideas for after you've completed the Couch to 5k:

  1. Sign up to a 5K race. Put your training into practice in a more competitive setting by signing up to a 5K race. 
  2. Increase your number of runs. One of the most common ways to take your training to the next level after completing the Couch to 5K, is to simply add more  runs each week. Why not try training for four or five days? 
  3. Bridge to 10K.  if you love the structure of the Couch to 5K program, then the Bridge to 10K method is the perfect way to pick up where you left off. It’s designed to guide you from 5K to 10K in six weeks. 

Ready to run 5k? Make it official with a 5k race near you.

Find your first 5k

people running to achieve a good marathon time

6 Tips To Improve Your Marathon Time

Whether you’re crossing the line for the very first time or going for a PB, follow these tips to optimise your marathon time.

Whether you’re crossing the line for the very first time or going for a PB, follow these tips to optimise your marathon time.

Running a marathon may seem like a nearly impossible task, but it’s entirely doable for most runners with the proper training. 

When it comes to cutting down your marathon time, it’s actually easier to knock off minutes than most races – thanks to the long distance!

In this post, find out how long it takes to run a marathon for the average runner, see what factors can affect your marathon time, and see six tips that will help you improve your marathon time. 

How long does it take to run a marathon? 

The first thing to remember is that however long it takes you to run a marathon, you’ve still run a marathon! 

Many people can run a marathon in anywhere from four to five hours with proper training. Some aim to run a marathon in under four hours, some expect seven or more. Plan your training around your ability and goals.

What’s a good marathon time?

Ultimately, there’s no such thing as a good marathon time – only different times depending on your goals. 

Elite runners run just above a 2 hour marathon - but Eluid Kipchoge has previously run a sub 2 hour marathon with a time of 1:59:40 - the world record marathon pace. 

But for most of us, aiming for a time under four and a half hours is challenging enough. 

More experienced runners often look for a marathon time around the four hour mark. A common goal time to aim for is under four hours for men and under four and a half hours for women. 

5 factors that affect your marathon time 

No two marathons are the same. But equally, it’s all about marathon preparation. 

The following factors will directly impact your marathon time: 

  1. Training: the more time you dedicate to training, the better your marathon performance will be.
  1. Nutrition and hydration: focus on proper nutrition and hydration leading up to your race (and during) for optimum performance.
  1. Weather: you can’t control it, but you do need to be aware of it. If it’s hot or humid, expect to run slower than expected.
  1. Course conditions: is the course flat, hilly, will there be a headwind? Research the course and race day conditions to best prepare. 
  1. Pace: a marathon is a race, but you don’t need to sprint off from the beginning. Pace yourself properly to finish the race around your predicted time. 

6 tips to improve your marathon time 

Whether it’s your first marathon and you’re looking to beat your friends, or you’re just looking to run a little quicker than last year, there’s various things you can do to increase your marathon pace:

  1. Include interval training in your running program
  2. Practice your race pace
  3. Nail down your nutrition and hydration
  4. Include strength training in your program
  5. Respect your rest days
  6. Follow a training plan

Include interval training in your running program

Interval training is when you mix fast and hard efforts with slow jog recoveries. 

Running short intense efforts will increase your lactate threshold, teaching your body to run faster with less effort.

Practice your race pace

Your marathon race pace is likely to be slower than some of your training. Besides, you’ve got 26.2 miles to cover - it’s a little further than your standard sixty-minute loop around your local area.

Practice running your race pace to get a feel for the sustained effort. 

A great way to do this is by running your easy days at your target marathon race pace.

Nail down your nutrition and hydration 

26.2 miles is a long way, but don’t let that put you off!

It just means you get to eat more snacks on the way, right?!

Practice your marathon nutrition and hydration strategy during your weekly long runs and see what works best for you - this could be gels, sports drinks, or water bottles containing sugars and electrolytes. 

Include strength training in your program

Training in the gym is intimidating for many runners. But as little as one or two gym sessions a week will help reduce your risk of injury and will make you a faster runner.

Include exercises such as squats, walking lunges, core exercises, and wall sits to become a better runner.

Find strength exercises for runners and strength training plans.

Respect your rest days 

If you’re preparing for your first marathon, it can be tempting to run excessively to squeeze in more training.

While we’re glad you’re feeling motivated and excited, you need to respect your rest days.

Include at least one, but maybe two or more rest days a week - this is when your body recovers, ultimately making you a better runner.

Follow a training plan 

Finally, follow a training plan.

While unstructured training may work for a while, if you’re not following a training plan with structured workouts (interval training, long runs, easy runs, and tempo efforts), then it’s easy to lose motivation.

You might also fall out of routine, not running as quickly as you’d like come marathon day. 

If you’re more experienced, you can create your own training plan. But we’d recommend following one prescribed by a coach or found online. 

To summarise 

Achieving your best marathon time all comes down to training and preparation. 

If you stick to a routine and follow the advice listed in this article, then you can absolutely achieve your fastest marathon time yet.


5 Obstacle Events Every Runner Must Try

Plateau and boredom are things all runners deal with at some point in training.

Plateau and boredom are things all runners deal with at some point in training.

When you find yourself starting to dread that weekly long run or getting frustrated by the familiar numbers on your watch, shaking up your training is the best way to turn things around.

That might be running with a friend, straying from your usual route, experimenting with different terrain…or doing all of those things at once with an obstacle event! 

The last few years have seen obstacle races grow massively in popularity. Why? They’re fun, a full-body challenge and the perfect way to fall back in love with running. 

Check out a few of our favourite UK obstacle events coming up soon!

1. Spartan London South East Trifecta Weekend and European Championships 

Spartan is where trail running meets obstacle course racing. With whole lot of mud and a fire jump to finish Spartan is a race like no other. 

The ultimate test in strength and endurance, they pull out all the stops to put even the most seasoned athletes through their paces. With race options that range from kids courses and 5ks all the way up to a 50k ultra, the Spartan London South East Trifecta has something for every age and ability. 

  • Why we love it: Beautiful cross country course and a range of challenging obstacles.
  • When: Sat, 8 Oct 2022 - Sun, 9 Oct 2022
  • Where: Nutley, United Kingdom

Book Spartan

2. Inflatable 5k - St Albans (Hertfordshire)

Embrace your inner child on the world’s largest inflatable course - it’s not built for PBs, but it is built for fun. Get your mates together, select your distance (2.5k, 5k, 10k, 15k), and bounce your way through 30+ gigantic obstacles.

  • Why we love it: Good fun and great tunes!
  • When: Sat, 3 Sept 2022
  • Where: St Albans, United Kingdom

Book Inflatable 5k

3. Grim Challenge

Go offroad with the Grim Challenge. This muddy event will have you slipping and sliding under and over a variety of fun, fairly easy natural obstacles. A crowd favourite, this event always pulls a good number of participants and promises a lively atmosphere. 

  • Why we love it: Energetic, inclusive atmosphere. 
  • When: Sun, 4 Dec 2022
  • Where: Aldershot, United Kingdom

Book Grim Challenge

4. Endeavour Swanbourne 

There’s nothing like a bit of teamwork to reinspire your love of sport and that’s what Endeavour Swanbourne is all about. Set in the wilds of Buckinghamshire, you’ll tackle streams, haystacks, barbed wire, fire and lots of mud. 

  • Why we love it: Gorgeous rural location and options for competitive racing. 
  • When: Sun, 23 Oct 2022
  • Where: Swanbourne, United Kingdom

Book Endeavour Swanbourne

5. Tough Mudder - North West

Add a little adventure to your weekly 5k with this obstacle course classic. Tough Mudder events are teamwork inspired, fast-paced and challenging –- perfect for getting yourself out of a rut. And the best part? You can celebrate your efforts with a hard-earned refreshment at the finish line.  

  • Why we love it: Great for team building.  
  • When: Sat, 10 Sept 2022 - Sun, 11 Sept 2022
  • Where: Cheshire, United Kingdom

Learn More

person training for a spartan race

How to Train & Prepare for a Spartan Race

Spartan races promise mystery obstacles, mud, a truly physical challenge and a whole lot of fun. With obstacle races all over the world and a passionate community of mighty Spartans at every race, what exactly do they entail, and what's the best way to train for one?

Spartan races promise mystery obstacles, mud, a truly physical challenge and a whole lot of fun. With obstacle races all over the world and a passionate community of mighty Spartans at every race, what exactly do they entail, and what's the best way to train for one?


What are Spartan races?

Spartan races are a cross between a traditional trail race (aka off-road running race) and an obstacle course. 

There are multiple distances on offer, from 1k kids obstacle races to 50k mystery obstacle challenges. How far you go is up to you but, whatever happens, you’ll be faced with military style obstacles designed to test your full-body strength.

What to expect from Spartan obstacles

Obstacles vary depending on location and the distance you’re racing. While the run requires cardio and leg strength, the obstacles are mainly there to test your upper body. You can expect rope climbing, monkey bars, tyre flipping, log carrying, mud crawling, spear throwing, wall climbing and more!

The obstacles are designed to be completed alone but many choose to work together to help others tackle each obstacle. If you can’t manage an obstacle, you can do 30 burpees instead – though the idea is that everyone at least gives every obstacle a good go.

What are the different Spartan race distances?

Every Spartan race has a different name. The name defines the distance and number of obstacles you’ll face. Generally, the longer the distance, the tougher the trail (think higher elevation, more technical tracks) and the tougher the obstacles (think trickier climbs, more fire!).

Below are the four main Spartan race distances you’ll find around the world:

  • Spartan Sprint - 5k: 20 obstacles over a 5k medium elevation trail.
  • Spartan Super - 10k: 25 obstacles across a 10k route, generally with some areas of high elevation.
  • Spartan Beast - 21k: 30 obstacles, each one designed to test and challenge you physically and mentally. The route will generally be steep with hard ascents and tricky descents.
  • Spartan Ultra - 50k: 60 obstacles across challenging terrain. Expect to tackle all of Spartan’s toughest obstacles, as well as face extreme elevation gain.

Every Spartan race has its signature Spartan obstacles that you can rely on. But part of the challenge (and fun!) is that Spartan like to shroud the obstacles and race route of each event in mystery. You can never be quite sure what’s going to come your way on race-day – so you better be prepared for everything! 

How to choose the right Spartan for you

While Spartan races are certainly not for the faint hearted, you shouldn't let that put you off giving them a go.

The great thing about Spartan Races is that you can ease yourself in with a shorter 5k distance and build your way up.

Naturally, the Sprint is the obvious place to start – you’ll face less obstacles and won’t have as far to go. However, you may already have strong cardiovascular stamina, so it may make more sense to go with the 10k Super. You’ll only face five more obstacles than on the 5k Sprint but can play to your strengths over a longer distance trail.

It’s also worth remembering that this isn’t a course where you’re expected to achieve anything close to your normal running PB. Sure, some people choose to sprint their way through the sprint 5k, but most are hanging on for dear life and engaging their mental resilience as much as their physical strength. 

Keen to try a Spartan this year? Your last opportunity to take part in a Spartan obstacle race in the UK in 2022 is the London South East Spartan Trifecta Weekend and European Championships.

In the US, there are plenty of great Spartan obstacle races, as well as some great trail options such as the Spartan Golden Gate Trail Classic Weekend.

How long should you train for a Spartan?

Ideally, you should be following a spartan race training plan for at least 8-12 weeks before your Spartan challenge.

This is to give you enough time to build stamina as well as upper body strength. If you’re already doing regular weight and running training or have a good baseline of fitness, one month of training is okay. 

Spartan training for beginners

Training for a Spartan race (or any obstacle race!) is harder to replicate than your typical distance running event. While you can train for the distance, the 20+ obstacles in your way will make the reality of your experience very different.

But remember – every Spartan started as a newbie. Though it seems daunting, Spartan race training can actually be very similar to workouts you’re probably already doing in the gym. 

A solid beginners Spartan training program should involve a healthy mix of endurance, sprints, hills, and full body strength and HIIT training.

1. Endurance training

Spartan races are designed to push you to your limits, so some endurance training is vital. Make sure you’re adding a long run to your weekly training schedule, and gradually extending the distance you cover in training sessions.

Even if you’re taking on the Sprint race, being able to comfortably run at least double the distance will stand you in great stead to handle tough terrain and tired legs.

2. Sprints and Hill training

To state the obvious: Spartan races are designed to be intense. The more comfortable you are with short bursts of intense training, the better. 

Add a weekly hill sprint session to the end of your runs to prepare for any hilly terrain. As for sprints, throw them in the mix once weekly to boost your anaerobic threshold (aka the max amount of effort you can sustain for a long duration). Increasing your anaerobic endurance isn’t comfortable, but it will improve your perceived feelings of effort as well as your recovery time. 

3. HIIT and full-body strength training

At a Spartan race, there’s certainly no shortage of obstacles requiring upper body strength. As part of your Spartan race training, you should be aiming for at least two upper body strength sessions a week. 

Though you don’t need to practice with logs and sandbags, weight training as well as bodyweight training will prep your body for the challenge. 

No access to a gym or weights? Building up your reps of push ups, pull ups, squats, lunges, and burpees will do the job just fine!

Spartan training nutrition

Whilst Spartan training in Ancient Greece saw young Spartans be underfed due to a (severely misguided) belief that if athletes were skinnier they would grow taller – we know nutrition is key to fueling healthy Spartan workouts.

All of the training you’ll be doing should be at quite a hard level – this means your body will need extra fuel to repair itself and prevent injury. Whilst you’re undertaking Spartan race training, you should be upping your protein (for muscle repair) and ensuring you have a balanced intake of vegetables and carbohydrates. 

carbohydrate example of nutrition for spartan training

When it comes to nutrition on race-day, be sure to have a hearty breakfast and drink and eat plenty the day before. 

The nutrition you bring with you will vary depending on your distance. 

A simple way to calculate what you need is to add calories every hour you’re on the course. Be sure to practice eating on the go in your training – everyone’s body reacts differently and you can find what you like. Gels work well for some, while others prefer nuts or protein bars.

Even if you’re running the 5k and don’t feel like you’ll need nutrition on course, be sure to bring snacks for afterwards – as well as plenty of water. 


Spartan races are both physically and mentally rewarding. As well as feeling full of endorphins from your physical effort, your mind will feel strong too. You’ll finish knowing the capabilities of your mental resilience, and confident that you can–and did–accomplish hard things.

Plus, obstacle course races are basically giant adult playgrounds! If you fancy a wild day out in the mud with friends, start your Spartan training program and book the next Spartan event near you

With runs from 5k to 50k, why not try Spartan’s final UK weekender of 2022?

Book Spartan London South East

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