Last April I ran my first full Marathon in London – here are my tips for novice Marathon runners

By Nicki Goodman, Sports Massage Therapist at The Mill Clinic

It wasn’t until I had a client in today who isn’t a regular runner for me to remember what it was to realise the enormity of the challenge it is to be a novice marathon runner. I remembered after the initial joy of getting in the London Marathon, then the rising panic of how on earth I was ever going to do it!

There is so much advice out there regarding how fast to run, what pace to run at, interval training, but when you are not a regular runner, that can all seem like jargon and isn’t easily understood.

So we sat down and started right at the beginning…..

Novice Runners


Having the right trainers is vital. Making sure they fit correctly and are the right ‘gait’ for your running style. Having your gait tracked is when you go on a treadmill and someone watches you to see if you run neutral (your foot doesn’t twist in or outwards). If not they can give you insoles or different trainers to stop your foot rolling inwards (pronating) or outwards (supinating). This ensures that all the body is running in the correct positioning and not putting too much strain on the ankles, knees and hips.

Training Programme

Once you have the correct trainers its now about finding the right training programme to suit you. There is no point picking a programme that has you running 5 times a week if this isn’t going to fit into your lifestyle. You must be running about at least 3 times a week and the pace doesn’t matter or the distance to begin with it’s all about time out on your legs. It’s also a mental thing too. Knowing that you can run!!! There are some good free Apps that you can use to help get you started as well.

Once the first 3-4 weeks is under your belt now is the time to start marking the miles off. It’s really good to change speeds when you run. This is good to do on the shorter runs. This is called interval training. The speed work gives the body extra ability to accelerate up and down gradients and it’s also there to help with endurance. Increasing the speed up and down on the shorter miles will help with the distance when you are clocking up the 20-22 milers.


Stretching is always a thing that I get asked about loads when people start running or upping the miles. Everyone seems to underestimate stretching. It should be a vital part of marathon training. The muscles are being worked so hard when running, and when we run lactic acid can build up in the muscles. Stretching helps to eliminate this and makes the muscles run freer. Freer muscles makes running easier and faster and stops the aches and pains after running and is the biggest prevention to injury. Stretching should be done only after running once the muscles are warm. You don’t stretch cold muscles. If you feel stiff and the need to stretch before a run then warm the muscles up first, run for 5 – 10 minutes and then stop and stretch and then start again. But stretching must take place at the end of the run. Stretch all the body, calf’s hamstrings, quadriceps and the upper back as sometimes our shoulders get tight when running for long distances.

Runner stretching

The most important thing is to enjoy your running as it takes up such a big part of your life for 4 months and at a time of year when the weather and darkness can make it seem like an even harder challenge. Although I personally love to run in the rain!

I know it’s easy to say at this stage but you will have a good happy marathon, but only if you have put in the training.

Nicki Goodman Sports Massage Therapist

Good luck!