For some of us the idea of going on a 20 minute fast walk every day can seem a daunting or crazy idea in itself; for others it’s marathons or triathlons. For a mad but great minority it’s extremes like ultramarathons.
We tend to sign up for these daring events months in advance and tend to follow our heart rather than our head at this point. This is no bad thing when we’re trying to break out of our comfort zone. But when the excitement begins to calm, and training starts to grow, it’s time to start using your brain to give you the best chance of success.
One of the best bits of advice I can give anyone doing a new event is “ask questions”. Talk to as many people as you can - online, in person, via email - who have done the same or similar events. Most enthusiasts are only too happy to pass on their experiences and tips, and if you’re clever you can use their combined experience to help you avoid common training mistakes or gain invaluable knowledge which most first timers don’t have.
The second bit of advice - pace yourself. The biggest cause of people not reaching their physical goals is injury, which then cuts into their training time. Leave yourself enough time to build your training regime gradually so your body has time to adapt and strengthen to the new challenge. Trying to do too much too quickly is a recipe for injury.
Making sure you have the right equipment is important especially for more complex events like triathlons and ultramarathons, but don’t fall into the trap of relying too heavily on props. I’ve met many a person who, when doing their first marathon, invest in the best, newest and most expensive trainers on the market, but haven’t thought at all about their actual running technique. While having a good pair of trainers is important, working with someone to make sure your running form is correct is, without a doubt, the priority. This is what will give you the best rewards.
My last bit of advice is be preventative rather than reactive. I would highly recommend getting a physical assessment early on. Seeing an Osteopath to assess your biomechanics and give you event specific exercises to help prepare the body can reduce the risk of injury. Due to increased training muscles can often become tight, which means they’re working less efficiently and can cause more tension through tendons. A regular sports massage is an easy way to maintain muscular health and help speed up recovery during training periods.
These simple measures can save you a lot of problems further down the line, when it can be too late to fix them.
Good luck and don’t forget - any questions ASK!