Running a marathon can be an amazing experience. It all comes down to how well you train and prepare yourself for the event. A bad meal, dehydration, and poor sleep can affect your performance. Thus, it’s important to plan everything in detail and stay committed to your goals. Preparing for a race takes a lot of time, discipline, and hard work, so don’t expect it to be easy.
Before signing up for a marathon, assess your overall health to make sure your body is up for the challenge. Take this step only if you’ve been running for at least a year and have previous experience running shorter races. Set realistic goals and then create a training plan. You can expect to spend 12 to 15 hours a week in training, which can be mentally and physically demanding.
Create a Schedule
If you aren’t looking to break any world records, aim for three to four runs per week. This way, you’ll be able to alternate easy and hard days of training, build up your endurance, and get ready for the race without quitting your job or putting too much pressure on yourself.
Come up with a plan that fits into your lifestyle. Consider your fitness level too. If you push yourself too hard, you’ll end up with an injury. For example, it’s not recommended to run two hard days in a row. It’s better to alternate light training days with speed work and long runs to give your body time to recover. Be aware of your limits.
Before you embark on this journey, make sure you have at least 18 weeks to train. Most training plans require 12 to 20 weeks. Building weekly mileage too soon or too fast will lead to injuries. You should first run a few shorter races and adjust gradually to long distances.
Run at a relaxed pace during the first month of training. Aim for three to five runs per week. Do not increase your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from one week to another. Try to build up a weekly long run.
As a rule of thumb, change only one training component at a time. For instance, if you’ve decided to increase your running mileage, don’t begin hill work the same week. Each workout should have a specific goal. Someone who trains three times a week can complete a speed workout the first day, a tempo run two days later, and a long run on weekends.
Newbies should experiment with different kinds of runs, such as short, mid, and long tempos. The long tempo is particularly beneficial because it allows you to run at your marathon goal pace. At this point, it’s important to understand your limitations and strengths so you can gradually build up your muscular, cardiovascular, and skeletal systems. Stay consistent with the weekly miles and make adjustments along the way.
Get Proper Rest
Adequate rest is essential to preventing muscle fatigue and injuries. Even though you shouldn’t train at all on your rest days, doing some cross training is not a bad idea. Active recovery speeds up muscle repair, boosts your performance, and relieves soreness. Walking, swimming, cycling, Pilates, and strength training are a great choice. If you’re too tired or feeling pain, stay in bed and rest.
Proper nutrition is the key to optimal physical performance. If you don’t eat well, your muscles will feel heavy and begin to tire. When training for a marathon, increase your daily carb intake. Eat plenty of fruits, rice, and energy bars. Consume up to 60 grams of carbs per hour for any run over two hours. Energy gels and sports drinks can help too. Don’t forget to stay hydrated. If possible, plan your run route to pass water fountains. Use a hydration belt and have a water bottle at hand all the time.
Get Appropriate Gear
Although running doesn’t require any special equipment, you still need appropriate gear. You can’t train for a marathon in sneakers and yoga pants. Choose a quality pair of shoes that fit you perfectly. Make sure you are buying a shoe that was developed for running, not other sports. If possible, go to a specialty store and consult an experienced salesperson. Some stores will allow you to try on the shoes and take a run on their treadmill or around the parking lot.
What you will wear during training depends on a number of factors, such as the temperature, precipitation, and your preferences. In general, it’s recommended to opt for cool, quick drying T-shirts and shorts made from high-tech fabrics. Cotton retains moisture and may cause discomfort, so it’s better to avoid it. If you’re training in the winter, dress in layers. Consider buying a running watch too. This gadget will help you track your progress and time multiple laps.