Bedgebury Forest 10 and 5 miler action

Marathon preparation plan from Nice Work

Were you lucky with London? Heading south for Southampton? Will you rock up in Brighton? Or do you prefer Paris in springtime? Wherever your spring marathon plans take you the first step, after planning your training, has to be mapping out a progressive race build-up.

Thankfully, Sussex-based promoter Nice Work has it all covered, with hundreds of races at every conceivable distance in their comprehensive programme. You are particularly well-served if you live in the south-east and here is just one example of how you can arrive on that marathon start line fully prepared and raring to go.

There are at least four months in 2020 before any of our selected spring marathons so there is plenty of time but why not start the year with a bang at the Lamberhurst New Year's Day 10K? This year's race will have a new course at picturesque Bewl Water Reservoir due to Scotney Castle being unable to accommodate the event. Competing here could be a statement of intent and get you started on the road to success in 2020.

February's suggestion is to refresh those road mile jaded legs with a scenic 10 miles at Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest on 2 February. This race (pictured above) sells out every year so book early early to experience the undulating forest paths and trails. Your legs and your mind will thank you for the challenge – bring the family and enjoy the tranquil forest and cafe after the race.

Two weeks later it's time to step on the gas in the Hendy Tunbridge Wells Half Marathon on 16 February. This is one of the largest races organised by a running club – Tunbridge Wells Harriers – and is famed for its challenging route, meticulous organisation, friendly marshals and overall value for money. Another sell-out event that requires prompt action to enter.

Suddenly its time to get serious with the flat and fast Brett Lydd 20 miler on 10 March. The course makes the most of the scenic Romney Marsh countryside and there are few flatter routes around, possibly none at the crucial 20 mile distance, so essential at this stage of your marathon preparations. There is a half marathon option if you are not quite ready for the 20.

Finally, if you did not get in one of the big name marathons there is always the PodPlus Kent Spring Marathon and Half Marathon at Charing on 5 April. This rural race uses quiet lanes and part of the Pilgrims Way around Ashford, Westwell and Charing. Last year's race was won by Heather Noone (Woodbridge Shufflers, 2:49:33) so it's time for the chaps to step up a gear!

Image courtesy Nice Work race management

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