The glut of January health kickers has faded away. It is time for the serious runners to move to the front of the pack.

If you are considering tackling your first half or full marathon this year now is the time to step up your training.

We spoke Canary Wharf’s fitness experts to find out their top tips for making it to the finish line.


Name: Ashley Hall

Job: Assistant gym manager at Pure Gym in Hertsmere Road

Why he’s an expert: Competed in various half and full marathons and recently an ultra marathon. Seven years serving in the 2nd battalion Princess Of Wales’s Royal Regiment Light Infantry Battalion.

Ashley Hall, assistant gym manager at Pure Gym


Train for the route. If has a lot of assents find somewhere with these features. If you can only find one hill, perform hill reps to build up endurance. Do not waste energy trying to run all the assents, walk them to give you a little recovery time and you can easily make the time up on the way down.

Look after your feet. Use Vaseline between your toes to prevent rubbing or layers of zinc oxide tape over hot spots on the heels or balls of the feet. Feet will swell during a long distance run so take this into account when selecting footwear.

Don’t forget resistance work. Use this in your training to strengthen muscles helping avoid injury Pure Gym Canary Wharf is opening 24-hours a day from February 13, so even if you work awkward hours you will be able to access the gym.

Carb up the night before. This is the fuel your body will be using first thing. Also have a good meal on the day and use energy drinks and gels along the way.

Have fun. Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t do as well you expected – you will get there in the end.


Name: Dr Oliver Eccles (MChiro)

Job: Doctor of chiropractic at The London Wellness Centre on West India Quay.

Why he’s an expert: Holds a Masters Degree in Chiropractic Medicine from the Anglo European Chiropractic College (AECC) in Bournemouth and is a keen sportsman.

Dr Oliver Eccles, doctor of chiropractic at The London Wellness Centre


Don’t just run. Incorporate a variety of exercise, such as swimming and cycling, into your training. This will help build endurance capacity by making your body use different muscles groups, therefore limiting injury. Core strength is the keystone to an injury-free run. Including core stability exercises such as planks in your routine will help build these crucial muscle groups.

Listen to your body. If aches and pains last a few days, rest and get it looked at. Self-massage and stretching are good habits. A tip is to use a firm ball - like a dog ball - to get into tension points in your calf, quads and glutes.

Hone your technique. An often underrepresented area of fitness, it’s crucial for those looking to get the best out of their body during a long distance running. You will not only prevent injury, but become a more efficient runner. Helpful when you’re hoping to shave minutes off your time or get a personal best.


Name: Emily Hughes (Dip Hyp Cs, Dip PC)

Job: Hypnotherapist at The London Wellness Centre on West India Quay.

Why she’s expert: Qualified hypnotherapist and training as a counsellor

Emily Hughes, hypnotherapist at The London Wellness Centre


Don’t ignore your mental strength. It goes hand-in-hand with physical capability, and should be developed long before you reach the start line. Set off believing your training is achievable, and you will experience high motivation levels. When you’re in a good frame of mind, notice how your outlook and endurance peaks when you start with a positive belief. Think about noting down your daily mood in your exercise journal or planner.

Allow time to rest your mind and look after your mental state. Apply the same concept to your mind as your body. If you’re overworked and tired your mindset will not be at its peak. Mental relaxation gives your mind time to repair and come back stronger than before, which is essential for long distant running.

Visualise your success and release self doubt. Identify what your fears are, and start to let them go by doing a simple visualisation exercise. Keep you mindset and motivation strong by imagining your end goal the way you want it to be. Allow this concept to be your point of focus. The more you exercise this mental muscle, the more you’ll think about your training success and end goal.


Name: Stefan H Weitzel MD FRCS (Tr&Orth)

Job: Lower limb sports and specialist foot and ankle surgeon at LycaHealth in Westferry Circus

Why he’s an expert: Treats runners for injuries and has run marathons and half-ironman triathlons.

Stefan H Weitzel, lower limb sports and specialist foot and ankle surgeon at LycaHealth


Consider your starting point. Complete novices should concentrate on short distances (2k-4k) once or twice a week for at least six months to gradually build up muscle strength and tendon, ligament and joint resilience. A regular park runner who does two or more 5k runs a week should aim for four months to get ready. An experienced middle distancer (10k-15k) may do so in a shorter period.

Start with fewer runs in the early stages and build up. Novices should stick to 10k-12k runs earlier and increase to 20k-25k, established middle distancers can get up to 20 miles (30k) in later long sessions. Sticking to these principles will minimize repetitive strain and overuse to hips, knees and ankles.

Stretch. Spending 5-10min warming up before each session is an important element of further reducing risk of injury, and should not be forgotten.

Increase calorie intake as your distance increases. Taking on board supplements during running sessions should be experimented with early on. Developing a technique to drink while running may prove more difficult than it sounds and needs to be practiced to be perfected.

Have a game plan. On race day this will help you focus and avoid or at least delay “hitting the wall”. Work out a mile time and stick to it as long as you can, which will also reduce the risk of starting too fast early on.


Name: Stephen Parkinson

Job: Health advisor at Bupa Health Clinic in Crossrail Place

Why he’s an expert: Assesses and advises runners and athletes on a daily basis

Stephen Parkinson, health advisor at Bupa Health Clinic


Listen to your body – it knows best. Before you start the training check your joints, have a blood test, listen to your heart and understand what is happening on the inside. A health assessment can help identify any potential health issues that may affect your training regime. This will help you set realistic and relevant goals and plan training accordingly. Health advisors can help with setting a training plan.

Set goals. Whether it’s running 4k at a personal best or reaching a certain beat per minute heart rate; it’s a good idea to have a training plan with specific and challenging goals. Make sure you only focus on that week’s task and monitor your progress with an app or note it down on paper. Running should never be a walk in the park, it’s essential to constantly push yourself when training for a marathon.

Eat sugar. On race day always carry sweets in your pocket. Having something like jelly babies can save you when you hit a difficult point and it feels as though you can’t carry on. The sugar hit from the sweets replaces the glycogen in the body and can give you the boost you need at the time you most need it. But don’t try something new on race day.

Recover properly. Looking after your body once the marathon is over is just as important as preparing properly for the race, so take recovery seriously. Book a session with a physiotherapist to identify any injuries that you may have sustained to muscles, joints or other parts of your body.

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