Nelson's Phil Costley recently claimed his third Rotorua Marathon title. He ran 2:28:25 to upset five-time champion Dale Warrander - 15 years after his first win at the race.
The 42-year-old, who came second to Warrander in Auckland by four minutes last year with a time of 2:28:18, will be among the favourites to back up his Rotorua win and claim the marathon title at the adidas Auckland Marathon in late October.
Entries for the half marathon have sold out and there are limited entries available for the marathon and quarter marathon.
Now is the time to begin the serious training for all runners who want to record a personal best.
Costley is a good man to ask for advice. He is the first elite roadster of the marathon with four wins ('96, '97, '99 and '05) a third ('10) and a second (last year) and proudly announced he is "the only man to wear the No1 race number for the rest of eternity".
We caught up with the hard man of New Zealand running to get his top five tips for getting ready for the 42.2km and 21.1km races with the six-month countdown on. Although he was quick to joke: "I don't want to give too much away resulting in some 'weekend warrior' kicking my butt over the harbour bridge!"
His five top tips to get ready for the Auckland marathon six months out:
Run, run, run
Do as much easy running as your body can handle. Be sure to give yourself easy days and rest days. I recommend running off-road wherever possible. This will lessen the pounding your body will take, be less wear on your shoes and take you to places which will take your mind away from the humdrum of running and make a long run an enjoyable adventure.
Hit the hills
This will build strength and test your staying power for when the going gets tough. It will also reward you with some great views to make the effort worth it.
Experience everything before the day
Select a few lead-up races to test your nutrition, clothing, pace judgment, breakfast routine, etc. so you will have experienced everything (except the harbour bridge) before you get to Devonport.
Mix up your training
If you have a time in mind for the Auckland Marathon consider throwing a few repetitions into your training over the last 10 weeks or so. Run an easy 15 minutes, then do five or six 1km reps at slightly faster than race-day pace, giving yourself the same recovery time as each rep takes. Therefore, five minutes for 1km then five minutes jog before the next rep. Run an easy 15 minutes to finish. This will get your body used to running fast, using more oxygen than normal so when you hit race pace your body will be comfortable and find the pace easy.
Start to test different running nutrition on your long runs. There are a huge number of supplements out there. I have found what works for me after a great deal of testing and will carry eight for a marathon taking a "shot" at 10km and every 5km thereafter. These must be taken before you feel the need for them to keep you topped up rather than refuelling from scratch. Most should be taken with water, which is supplied in all races.