Prepare for the London Marathon

Barry’s Bootcamp trainer Ricardo Vargas gives his top tops for getting through the London Marathon unscathed

1. Make sure you push yourself on the treadmill
The best thing to do is a high intensity, varied workout, as opposed to just running at a constant speed. You want to regularly change the incline and alter the pace. In my classes, I always have people mix it up so their routine is never the same for longer than a minute. Running on the road doesn’t always give you the same challenge as using the treadmill, so varying the gradient and speed will help shock your body and that’s important. If you do that, running on a flat road will become a walk in the park. Your body will be used to that high intensity, making it easier to maintain a consistent pace.

2. Practice running outside too
It’s important to combine treadmill work with outdoor workouts. Hill training is a really good way to prepare, as it helps open up your lungs. Like using the treadmill, make sure to incorporate interval training into your outdoor running rather than moving at a constant pace. Take Hyde Park for example: you should do a couple of laps around the whole park, adding 30 yard sprints to help keep the intensity and build muscle.

3. Boost your intake of carbohydrates
I would definitely recommend increasing your carb intake in the lead up to the race. Complex carbs like pasta and brown rice are good for giving you energy and you should fill up on them the night before. That way you will have a lot of energy all the way to the end.

4. Practice your running technique
You want to make sure your head is up and you’re running on the balls of your feet. Keep relaxed, inhaling through your nose and breathing out through your mouth. Keep your arms calm; you don’t want to swing them too much because that energy should go into your run. Practice this so you get comfortable with the technique.

5. Get a good pair of trainers
A lot of people heel strike, so first and foremost, go to a good store for running footwear. Don’t just pick shoes you think look nice. More often than not, they won’t be effective. In these specialised stores, experts will watch you run and see how you land on your feet before suggesting a pair based on the way you land. That will do a lot for your back and knees and will help avoid any unwanted injuries.

6. Work on strengthening your core
The three fundamental exercises to help strengthen your core are basic crunches, planks and the superman pose, which simply requires you to lie flat on the floor with your arms and legs stretched out. Do the crunches in sets of 30 and hold the plank and the superman pose for thirty seconds and repeat them all at least three times. Most people think of your core as being just your abs but it starts from our lower backs, and goes all the way to the top so it’s important to focus on all of those areas and those exercises will definitely help. You will notice your back strengthening after you’ve been training for a while, as many people have naturally weak backs.

7. Wind down in the last few weeks before the run
Start incorporating yoga into your workout to relax the muscles: you don’t want any lactic acid in your legs come race day. Foam rollers are good to massage your muscles. It’s an important tool for runners because you’re constantly pushing your legs, so you have to make sure to take care of them too.

8. Stretch
Stretch for at least 15 minutes after every session. A simple cool down is not enough. You want to make sure that you’re stretching the muscles out so they’re not tight and tense. The last thing you want to do is pull something. I always say that stretching is comparable to getting an oil change on a car. The preparation for a marathon run is intense so it’s important to do the maintenance work.

9. Keep motivated
It’s always good to keep the end goal in mind when you’re training. Classes are good because everyone is there with a similar goal in mind and the pace will keep you going at times where you might have given up if alone. Part of the beauty of Barry’s is that there’s always someone working really hard next to you so you feel obligated to work as hard as you can. The energy in classes is incredible. Aside from keeping you motivated, it also creates camaraderie with others too.

Barry’s Bootcamp, 16 Upper Woburn Place, WC1H 0AF