Neville Gardner’s Top Tips for running a Marathon by Active Feet

Meet Neville Gardner. Neville is a long-standing friend of Active Feet and Spartan legend. He has completed all 41 Melbourne Marathons, soon to clock up 42 as he trains to do it all over again at the 2018 October event!


We caught up with Neville to find out his top tips for running a marathon.


  • Get a medical check. Before commencing your marathon campaign, see your doctor to get the all clear.
  • Gear up. Make sure you have at least 3 x sets of running attire and 2 x two pairs of good quality running shoesGet fitted in the right shoes at the outset to ensure you get the right support and cushioning. One of the most overlooked necessities is good quality socks. A technical run sock can offer foot comfort and preventing skin injury, whereas cotton socks can get wet and sweaty then when they dry turn into a sandpaper-like surface. Talcum powder can further help with foot moisture management. Prevent sweat dripping into your eyes by using an anti-chafe balm over your eyebrows and in any friction areas to avoid irritation.
  • Register early. Sign upfor the Marathon event early so you are committed. Check your registration pack to use all the support information and offers the event provides. The Melbourne Marathon registration entitles you to a $50 off voucher at Active Feet, which I used to get my New Balance 1080 for the 2018 event.
  • Plan your training. Prepare a 14-week training program that focuses on building your endurance and the strategies need to complete the event. Your planning needs to include training, speed phrases, rest days, nutrition testing, water station practice and equipment.
  • Prepare your gear. Get your running attire ready, shoes out and training sports bag packed the night before a training run so you are ready to go. This helps with motivation and keeps you on track.
  • Eat right. Plan your diet to include plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables balanced with protein and carbohydrates. Remember to hydrate using a combination of water and sports drinks.
  • Buddy up. Train with a running partner. Try to run at a pace so you can talk comfortably while running. Some GPS have virtual partners. A running group can help keep you motivated and set your pace in training and on the day. 
  • Step up gradually. Increase yourweekly kilometres by no more than 5-10% over the total of the previous week’s distance. During the first three weeks of training, jog/walk up to 15-20kms each week. Gradually increase your weekly kilometres to 45-60kms for the next 9 weeks.
  • Run in nature. Introduce some long runs in nature to your training in the 8-10thweek of your program. Try the secret running tracks in Sherbrooke Forest and Ferny Creek in the Dandenong Ranges to acquire the leg and mental stretch.
  • Listen to your body. Don’t be afraid to have a rest day. Try to go on a short walk, cross train by cycling, swim in a heated pool or book in for a leg massage. Don’t wait until you feel thirsty or hungry, as your body is already in deficit. Stage your nutrition intake.
  • Practice your water station technique. Set up apractice water station using a card table and small plastic cups filled with water or sports drink. Position yourself carefully 200m out and avoid spills on your body and shoes. Slow down.
  • Set the clock. Practice early runs at the same time as the race starts to set your body clock.Time yourself on a one hour tempo time trial at an athletic track to establish what kilometre pace you can run. Your marathon time will only start once you pass through the start line, so don’t panic when you see the time has commenced and you are amongst the crowd waiting to start. Pace yourself. Don’t worry if it feels slow to start with. Make sure you run at a sustainable pace.
  • Know the drill. Check the race day details. Note the start time, start location, course, drink stations, medical stations, toilet locations, transport and parking, arrangements on race day and label your clothing bag. Make sure your race number has arrived if you have entered online.
  • Keep calm and enjoy the experience. Relax and enjoy the day. You have done the hard work and now it is time to be rewarded. Eat a light breakfast. Allow plenty of time for parking, transport, walking to the event and visiting the expo. Start running slowly. Keep your head up and run the shortest line.
  • Take breaks. Do not be afraid to walk, drink, eat and stretch. Small recoveries can help on the day and to your overall recovery. Completion and enjoyment should be a major goal of the event, so remember to be kind with your body and keep a positive mind.
  • Reward yourself. Very important to look after yourself post run. Hydrate gradually (no alcohol) and refuel on carbohydrates. Plan your celebration strategy. Do not run or jog for at least 3-4 days after the marathon. You can walk each day and have spa baths to soothe your aching muscles.


Neville hasn’t let anything stop him, not even an Achilles operation, hip replacement and a foot infection in 2016 that almost prevented him from starting/finishing the marathon. We are proud to have been part of his marathon journey and have fitted him in the New Balance 1080  for the 2018 Melbourne Marathon. We understand the injury history of our customers, their individual biomechanics and use this help them into the right shoe to support them and their goals.


Come in to one of our four Active Feet stores today for your free gait analysis and expert fitting.

We’ve carefully created the ultimate training pack featuring essential, Active Feet approved products to assist you on your journey to the 2018 Medibank Melbourne Marathon finish line.

2018 Training Pack contains:

  • Marathon Training Tee
  • Asics Headphones
  • Headlamp 
  • Race Waistbelt
  • Body Glide
  • Nuun Hydration Tablets (1 tube)
  • Hammer Nutrition Bar 
  • Hammer Nutrition Energy Gel
  • Spikey Massage Ball

Strictly while stocks last. Melbourne Marathon training packs exclusive to Active Feet. Get yours here: