Me last year during the UGM, trying to set a steady pace to make it successfully around the 42K course.  Hopefully this blog will help you in your race too!

Welcome to our first ‘UGM Runners’ blog’, especially dedicated to our 2016 International Runners. From now until June 5th, we’ll have a weekly blog covering training tips for all three UGM races (10K, 21K & 42K), and fundraising tips too.

We want these blogs to be as helpful as possible, to help you have the most fun with your training and fundraising over the next few months, and help you to get the most out of your trip in Uganda. So please feel free to get in touch or leave a comment if you would like me to cover something in particular- if I don’t know the answer myself I’m happy to research a topic or consult one of our other team members for more information.

A Newbie Runner…

When I signed up for the Uganda Marathon 2015, I was certainly a beginner when it came to running, with limited experience. Even covering a 3K felt like a challenge. I had run one marathon before for charity, but the combination of an office job and travelling in Asia had put my fitness back to practically zero. With regards to a race in Uganda, in Africa, I felt a little bit like a fish out of water to say the least!

But with some training and support from some of the more experienced runners during marathon week, I did it! Experiencing the race in Uganda and crossing the finish line was literally the BEST feeling! And I discovered at the same time, I actually quite like running. I’m very much still learning, but I’ve found a real passion for running through the Uganda Marathon.


My Uganda Marathon training was quite a journey: from my first few runs to trying to run in extra layers, to writing a training blog, trying to use equipment & even running my first ever half marathon!

And that’s what this blog is all about- using my experiences of running and fundraising from last year to help you guys. I’ll draw on what worked for me, and what I’d do differently too. I hope these are especially useful if you’re new to running or fundraising, but equally hope there’s something in these for everyone- even the most experienced runners and fundraisers!

Ten Tips for Kicking Off Your Training

For the first blog, I thought it would be good to share some tips to get you started in your training and during the early stages. Next week I’ll cover tips for ‘kicking off your fundraising’.

I appreciate with people signing up last year, in January and right up to this week, everyone is probably at different stages of their training, but I think these might be helpful even if you’ve been training for a few weeks, or even just to know you’re on the right track. And most are applicable to whichever race you’re doing: the 10K, half marathon, or full.

Here are 13 tips for kicking off your training for one of the UGM’s three races…

1. Break it Up

I find a full marathon or half marathon distance pretty scary! So when I train for one of these events, I break it up into quarters or halfs, and just work towards the first milestone, reach that, and then worry about milestone two, and so one.  That way the big goal seems much more manageable psychologically. For example when I trained for the marathon last year, I just trained for a quarter marathon first, and then worried about the rest later on. Just take it one step (or mile/kilometer) at a time! If you work on the small goals, the big goal will fall into place.

Momentum will build once you hit a few small milestones, and your feel like you’re making steady progress.

2.   Build gradually and don’t forget rest days

If you’re new to running, don’t straight off the bat aim to run everyday. You need to work you’re way into it, otherwise it’s tempting injury. Aim short to start with as well: I only did 3Ks and 5Ks to start with for a few weeks of training for the 42k, and then started to look at the bigger distances later.

Scheduling in rest days is really important too, as are a good night’s sleep. This is when you’re muscles heal and in turn, how your running will improve over the long-term.

3. Make your training as fun as possible

The last thing you want your training to become is a chore, because then you won’t want to do it. You want it too be fun, so you look forward to your running.

If you get bored running, why not make it social? Try and convince a friend to join you on your runs (or even better- get them to sign up and run in Uganda with you!). We’re also holding a number of social training runs over the next few months, which are a great opportunity to meet some of your fellow International Runners.

Music can help elevate boredom too. Recently, I’ve got quite into listening to a good podcast when I’m training!

4. Shorter runs really add up!

To my surprise last year, I found the majority of my training runs for the marathon were actually shorter distances! 3Ks and eventually 5Ks were the majority of my training. This was particularly helpful in the week, when I was trying to fit runs in around work. I just kept my longer runs to once a week on the weekend, so training didn’t feel like it was taking over my life.

Everyone’s different, but I’d certainly recommend just one long run a week (where you gradually increase the distance) and keep the majority of your runs to a nice short distances- the benefits will start adding up before you know it!

And this can work for the shorter distances too. If you’re doing the 10K, why not just make the majority of your runs a nice 2K jog?

5.  Listen to your body

When you’re training, make sure to listen to your body. If you feel like you’ve got a niggle from your last run, why not take an extra rest day, especially in the early stages? It will cost you more time in the long-run if you pick up an injury, and missing the odd run won’t make too much difference.

As you do more running, eventually you’ll have a better idea of when its okay to run, and when it’s not. But in the early days…don’t take any chances, especially with a race like this coming up!

6. Find a training plan to suit you

Everyone is different, so it’s important to find a training plan you’re happy with and one that fits in with your schedule. Sophie has posted this one in the group, but there’s plenty to be found through Google too!

Having a plan will help you to focus on one week at a time, so you don’t feel overwhelmed by the big goal.

7. Be flexible with your training

Don’t be too regimented with your training or when you want to hit a milestone, as your runs might not always go to plan for a whole number of reasons.

For example when I was trying to run 30K towards the end of my marathon training, it took me three attempts to actually do it, where when I first wrote out my plan, I assumed I’d do it on the first attempt!

Training for any race is an ever-evolving process, especially if you’re new to running. It’s all about testing what works for you and what doesn’t. Sticking inflexibly to your training plan isn’t always the best thing. Don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself.

8. Don’t forget to taper!

Especially if you’re running the longer distance such as the 21K or 42K… I’ll cover this more in subsequent weeks, but when planning you’re training, allow to dramatically cut down on your running in the final weeks before the race.

9. Booking a mid-training race can be great motivation and a milestone to work towards

If you’re running the half marathon, why not book in a 10K, or if you’re running the 10K in Uganda, why not run a 5K parkrun as part of you’re training?

It gives you something to work towards and can be a real motivation/confidence booster, knowing before you’ve even got to Uganda, you’ve completed a race already.

Again, if you fancy it, we’ve got some parkruns and half marathons booked in– the more the merrier!

10. Technology can really help

The beauty of running is it doesn’t really require much to do it, just a willingness to run and some footwear to absorb impact.

But there are some handy additions that can help. A running app can measure your distances, speed and time, as well as map your run. This can be a great tool to see how you’re doing, working towards those milestones and through your overall training plan.

11. Hydration, hydration, hydration

Sounds simple, but remember to keep well hydrated before and after your runs, and even during it if you’re doing a long distance. You’ll actually perform better in your run if you’re well hydrated.

12. Keep an eye on the group (and emails)

If you’re signed up to the Uganda Marathon, make sure to keep an eye on the Facebook group, as Mark will be posting running advice in there as well as notes about planned social runs, and I’ll be posting this blog in there too…


Mark will be posting running tips in the group & updates about training events

Hopefully this and all the other resources will be really beneficial for your training and fundraising!

13. Believe in yourself

Finally, this one’s a biggy, especially if you’re feeling nervous about your race or your training doesn’t seem to be going to plan- keep believing in yourself! I guarantee you can do this with a little bit of training and determination. You’ll reach the finish line and it will feel AMAZING.

Everyone finished last year, and on the day there’s no rush anyway. There’s no time limit, and some of our runners even went a little slower just to make the experience last a little longer! After all, this is much more than a race… this is a race like no other!

In summary…kicking off your training

In summary: set small goals and milestones, build gradually, rest, listen to your body, be flexible and most of all- have fun!

Until next time…Good luck! 🙂


Not signed up, but want to come to Uganda this June and participate in a race like no other? If you do, we still have a final few places left!


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