Top 10 Training Tips with Olympic Marathon Runner Milly Clark

Milly Clarke ran her first ever official marathon in 2015, a year later she was representing Australia at the Olympics in Rio. So if there is anyone to be giving advice on how to run a race, it’s definitely her.

1.  Quality over Quantity

I am a real believer in making sure that every run I do counts. It is easy to get caught up in how many kilometres you are running – or how many times a week you’re running that you lose the quality of training runs. Sometimes a stressful week at work or the weather means you can’t get out as often as you’d like for a run…but if you worry less about how many runs you’re doing and just focus on quality – the results come race day will be just the same.

2.  Go by Feel

The technology of the 21st century sees a lot of fancy watches, with people constantly checking splits and being worried about their pace. I often don’t run with a watch and find it more enjoyable to just run by feel – it can be very liberating. If you get too caught up in focusing on what pace you ‘should’ be running, it takes the fun out of training. This is especially true if you’re having a bad day and struggling to hit your pace! By the same token – if you are having an awesome day and feeling great – would you slow down to make sure you are hitting your splits? ;)

3. Mix it Up  

Try running different places around Sydney (or wherever you are from). There are so many great spots to drive and run. It is good to keep stimulating yourself so running the same loop over and over doesn’t become a chore. Otherwise you just get really good at running that same path. Sometimes I like to pick a nice café to start from – then I have something to look forward to once I finish my run! 

4. Have a Clear Goal or Focus  

Before I start training I like to have a goal or something to work towards rather than running around aimlessly. It makes every painful training run worth it when you know you’re working for something in particular. Try writing down “Gold”, “Silver” and “Bronze” goals – with Gold being the ultimate dream or focus, followed by Silver and Bronze also being targets that if you reach them, you’ll also be very satisfied.

5.  Fuel Properly

This does not just mean eating a massive spaghetti dinner the night before the race! In order for your body to adapt and absorb the benefits from training you have to eat and drink properly around hard training sessions too. If you know you have a hard training session coming up the next day – have a carb rich dinner and prepare yourself the day before so that all the nutrients are absorbed and ready to burn come training time.

6.  Drink NUUN 

We don’t just lose water when we sweat and often people don’t realise they are also losing valuable electrolytes during a run. These are minerals such as sodium, magnesium, potassium and calcium – all crucial for working muscles. Keeping yourself hydrated with an electrolyte product such as NUUN means everything you’ve lost through sweat can easily be replaced quickly ready for the next training run.

7.  Get Some Cool Running Gear 

As the mornings begin to stay darker and the days shorter, getting out for a run also gets harder. Everyone struggles with motivation at some point – so having a cool matching outfit, bright socks or singlets can add a little spring to your step.

8.  Run with Friends or a Group 

Having a trusty sidekick or joining a running group can really help get you out the door and push you harder during a tough training session. You might also be a source of motivation for someone else – it makes the solo sport of running feel more like a team effort.

9.  Treat Yourself to a Massage or Treatment 

Who doesn’t love a good massage? If you have been training hard, there is nothing like a good massage to help keep your muscles loose and flush out all the rubbish that builds up over the week. Every week or two is important and will help keep you injury free as well.

10.  Keep a Balance

Training for an event or race shouldn’t mean the rest of your life gets put on hold or you start to sacrifice other important things. Missing a few runs, or having a few “off” training sessions won’t ruin your race. Family, friends, work and downtime are also valuable parts of our lives that should never be neglected once you start to ramp up training. Balancing training and other “life” is tough – but very rewarding once you settle into a routine.