If you had to assemble a dream team to coach you through training for and completing your first marathon, you could do an awful lot worse than Mo Farah and Joe Wicks, the Body Coach. The most successful British track athlete in Olympic history and the most popular fitness and nutrition expert in the UK undoubtedly make for a winning combo.
Well, you and I will probably never have such a fantastic team behind us, but presenter George Lamb does. Farah and Wicks will be helping him on every step of the way as he prepares for the London Marathon 2018, and you can learn almost as much as Lamb by listening to Mo-Joe, an Audible Original audio show following Lamb through his 18-week training programme.
Like all addictive products, the first is free (it’s £2.99 after that), so we took a listen. Here are six things we learned.
1. Build Up Slowly So You Don’t Get Injured
“The aim is to not get you injured, that’s the key.” Wise words from Farah, especially as Lamb hasn’t done much running in the build-up to his training programme. Always build up the amount you run and how hard you run gradually, rather than in big jumps – the latter is a shortcut to injury. Farah started Lamb off on three runs a week at an easy pace to build his fitness.
2. The Best Thing About Running The London Marathon Is The Support
Obviously, Farah has more fans than you, but his favourite thing about the London Marathon applies to all runners – the support from the crowds lining the streets all around the course is amazing.
3. You Can Take Lessons From Other Sports Into Your Training
Lamb was a keen kickboxer and is planning on using that experience to help him with the marathon. “So many times when you’re in here [Paragon Kickboxing and Boxing Gym] and you think you haven’t got any more, somehow – every time – you find it,” he says.
4. Don’t Get Overtaken By A Giant Pair Of Testicles
Joe Wicks did not enjoy the London Marathon when he did it. He did the first half in 1hr 45min, then his knee started to ache and it took him six hours in total. Wicks was in great condition and able to knock out sprints on the treadmill like nobody’s business, but his endurance wasn’t there.
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“When I finished there was no-one at the finish line,” says Wicks. “They were sweeping the Mall. I got overtaken by a man dressed as a giant pair of testicles. He was running for testicular cancer.”
The lesson? Make sure you train enough to condition the body for long-distance efforts.
5. Strengthen Your Body With Leg Exercises
Wicks suggested that Lamb did these three leg exercises to prime his legs for the effort ahead.
From a standing position take a big step to one side and lower, keeping one leg straight and bending the other until the thigh of your bent leg is parallel to the ground. Then push back up and lunge to the opposite side.
Walking reverse lunge into squat
Take a big step back and lower the back knee until both knees are bent at 90°. Then stay low and immediately step back with your front leg into another reverse lunge. Then bring what’s now your front foot in line with your other foot so you’re in a squat position. Now you can stand up. Then repeat the whole thing.
Reverse lunge into hop
Step back and lower into a reverse lunge. Put your hand on the ground, then drive straight up from this position into a hop on your front leg. Alternate legs.
6. Make Your Own Snacks
Wicks gave Lamb a simple energy balls recipe to fuel his running. Blend up some dates (after soaking them), then add ground almonds, flaxseeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds and cacao nibs and mix it all together. Roll the mix into little balls – about the size of table-tennis balls – and coat them in desiccated coconut.
You can get more training tips and recipes from Mo Farah and Joe Wicks by listening to the Mo-Joe series on Audible. Each episode after the free first episode costs £2.99.
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Nick Harris-Fry is a journalist who has been covering health and fitness since 2015. Nick is an avid runner, covering 70-110km a week, which gives him ample opportunity to test a wide range of running shoes and running gear. He is also the chief tester for fitness trackers and running watches, treadmills and exercise bikes, and workout headphones.