Whether for exercise, relieving stress or just enjoying the great outdoors, participation in running is fast increasing with the UK running population reaching more than 11 million in 2017. For those starting out, the thought of running a significant distance is often daunting. We followed a business professional who took up running as a release from the stresses of running a business and has since embarked on a series of half marathons and recently completed her first Trial Marathon.

26.2 miles is a mean feat for any athlete and with an average marathon taking between 4 hours 22 and 4 hours 47 to complete it’s no wonder some extensive preparation was required. We caught up with Hannah Ackford post marathon to discuss the marathon and how she prepared.

When asked what prompted her to sign up for the event. “I found after hitting burn out after a year in business and working every hour under the sun I needed a release and a focus far away from the day to day of running a business. One day I just signed up for a half marathon and it went from there, this year I wanted the next big challenge and a trail marathon for a favourite charity seemed like a great idea, well at the time anyway.”

Completing her first half marathon in 2016, Hannah has admittedly come along way “I remember the first half marathon like it was yesterday, mainly because I wasn’t at all prepared for it and started to struggle at probably mile four. Lucky for me I had my amazing sister, who is a personal trainer with me, she kept me positive, threw bottles of water and jelly babies at me and by the end literally had to throw me over the finish line, a very unglamorous version of the Brownie brothers” she added.

The training programme for a marathon is all about varying distances and speeds. Hannah explains “You don’t have to do long runs everyday, you will also have some weeks that are better than others, but I worked towards having one longer run each week and incrementally increasing the distance. For example going from 13 miles, 15 miles, 17miles until you reach a 20-22 mile distance which I was told should be approximately two weeks before the event” she revealed “I did have some help along the way and I would recommend to anyone speaking to someone in the know about things like when to taper, what even is tapering and different types of runs for example hill runs, intervals to complete along the way’. Hannah made special mention to tools like Strava  which have revolutionised how we run saying “Even if you like running on your own it brings a community of passionate runners to you, people you can ask and for me most importantly that added support to get the training in”.

In terms of eating and energy, Hannah didn’t follow any traditional guidelines and was never a fan of carb loading in the traditional sense because it made her feel heavy when running. She claimed Tribal was a great way to get the energy she needed both for preparation and recovery “I had the cherry and Baobab smoothie at the start of the race, I could easily run with the pouch and top up when I needed that extra kick. The best thing about it though is I didn’t get that heavy feeling I often get with traditional gels or drinks. At the end of the race I then had the Mango and Baobab protein smoothie to enhance recovery. Although it helped me with my run, the best thing about it is it also tastes great and stopped me from overindulging on cake post marathon. Good for the run and better for the waistline”.

Try Tribal Sports nutrition for your next running challenge, perfect for marathons, half marathons or any endurance race.