How To Prepare For Your Next Marathon
If you’ve ever considered running in a marathon but were too intimidated by the idea of training for months on end, this is the article for you.
Marathon training can seem like an insurmountable obstacle to most people. But if you follow these simple steps, it will be easier than you think!
Read on to learn how to prepare your body and mind for your next marathon!
Be aware of your limits
Marathon training can be very strenuous, but it’s important to listen to your body the entire way through.
It’s one thing to spend an hour or two running on most days of the week - which is still considered marathon training - but it’s another thing entirely if you attempt to run for six-plus hours, five days per week during training.
Some runners will naturally adapt better than others, so by all means push yourself as far as you feel comfortable with.
Pick a goal marathon that matches your fitness level and current experience
If you’re just beginning your journey into the world of marathons, it may not be wise to sign up for an ultra-marathon right off the bat.
Instead, choose a marathon that matches your current fitness levels and experience - you’ll be more likely to finish it!
Training Rules of Thumb: How Far? How Long?
For beginners, we recommend aiming for about 50 miles per week for 16 weeks. This generally translates to running one or two times a day, depending on how long and intense each run is.
If you haven’t been hitting the pavement regularly before starting this training plan, we suggest taking things slowly at first; even if it means stopping several times during each run.
You can gradually increase your endurance as you go along - but always listen to your body! If something feels uncomfortable, back off and try again later.
Start with shorter distances before increasing distance or speed
It's a good idea to build up your endurance before you start piling on the distance.
Ideally, training for a marathon is like building a house: When you first begin construction (or in this instance, running), it’s best to lay the foundation (you don’t need anything fancy for this layer; just some basic tools will do). Once that layer has been established, then it can be built upon until you have an amazing structure at the end of it all.
This applies to marathons as well - if you’re not careful, things can fall apart quickly! To avoid injury and overtraining, build up your mileage gradually rather than attempting long distances right away. By doing so, you'll greatly increase your chances of finishing the race with good form.
Just like in house construction, it's not wise to build on weak foundations - keep that in mind while you're training!
Select a sensible goal time
If you’re running your first marathon, your goal may be just to finish it with minimal discomfort or injury.
Once you have experience under your belt, however, you will likely want to achieve a respectable time.
The best way to do this is by practicing during shorter runs before taking on long distances.
Running shorter distances regularly will improve your cardiovascular fitness and make longer distances feel less grueling when they come around.
You can also increase your speed gradually over time instead of attempting 20-mile runs just because you’re aiming for a faster time.
Remember, the key to setting good goals is focusing on consistency rather than speed! A slow and steady pace will get you there in the end.
Add strength training to your routine (if you’ve never done it before)
Strength training can greatly improve your endurance during marathon training. It will also help prevent injury by building up your muscles, tendons, ligaments, and bones.
The most basic workout plan involves picking two or three body parts to work out each day after running (e.g., arms + chest/ back + legs). For most people, this is ideal; however, if you're feeling particularly sore after a run, do not do strength training that day.
Training for a marathon is similar to bodybuilding - it’s about quality, not quantity!
The Four Building Blocks to Marathon Training
Eat The Correct Food
Good nutrition is essential for peak performance in any sport, including running! Make sure that you are eating well-balanced meals and avoiding fast food or “junk”.
Get Enough Sleep
While not everything about running can be quantified by numbers, sleep is one of them; your body needs good rest to be able to run at its best the next day! Be sure that you get eight hours (or more) per night!
It’s important to stretch before and after each workout session, whether it’s for 5 minutes or even an hour. Your muscles need time to relax after exercising to prevent injury and to stay flexible.
If you plan on taking your marathon training to the next level, you’ll want to consider including weightlifting in your routine as well. This will help improve your power and endurance on race day!
Follow these simple rules of thumb and we can guarantee that you’ll be prepared for anything - whether it’s a 5K or a 50-mile run! Go get ‘em!
Hydrating and Fueling on the Run
About 30 minutes before you leave, drink 12 ounces of water along with some Gatorade or another form of electrolyte-enriched liquid to replenish any lost minerals from training and to prevent dehydration during the run.
This is extremely important! If you wait until you’re thirsty to replace those precious fluids, it may already be too late - so don’t neglect this step!
During your run, drink about two cups of liquid every 10 minutes. During longer runs, you may need more than that - but never mindlessly empty a water bottle; if you feel like you don’t need another gulp, wait a few minutes and see how you feel before chugging some more.
If you have longer runs scheduled during the day - especially in hot weather - consider sipping energy-enriched liquids like a sports drink or chocolate milk along with water to keep your electrolytes replenished.
Don’t forget that even on shorter workouts, it’s smart to make sure your body doesn’t run out of fuel!
While most people know that they need to consume fluids while they work out, many don’t realise that their bodies also need carbohydrates for fuel.
That translates into about 60 grams per hour for endurance athletes who are doing high-intensity training of an average length - whereas more general exercise will need about 30 grams per hour.
Regardless of the length of your run, you should always consume carbs along with water or sports drinks (if you can tolerate them) to ensure that you don’t struggle through your workout on empty!
If it seems like this is happening anyway, try starting out running on an empty stomach and see if that helps; otherwise, experiment with different food/drink combinations until you find one that works well for you!
Speed work is optional, but if you want to run your fastest during races, it's an important part of training.
If you plan on including speed work in your routine, do not do it on the same days as long runs; instead, try to schedule them for Mondays and Fridays so that you have restful weekends before and after.
The best way to go about speed work is by doing intervals of increasing speed followed by a period of active recovery (jogging) until you feel ready to sprint again at 80% of your maximum effort.
For example: if you can complete a mile in 8 minutes, warm up with 1 minute of jogging and then run 400m at 90%, jog for 200m at 80% and repeat this 4 times followed by another minute of jogging.
Like strength training, speed work is optional but can help improve your race times if it's included in your weekly routine - so feel free to choose which options you want to add!
If you want to stay healthy and fit while keeping up with your training plans, cross-training should be a part of your daily workouts.
Although running is the easiest way to get in shape for half marathons, other forms of exercise such as swimming, cycling, and mixed martial arts that use various muscle groups promise great results too!
Variety keeps you motivated and allows you to experience new things while making sure that all areas of your body get worked out on a regular basis.
So how do we balance our workouts to ensure that we’re getting stronger, faster, and healthier?
It all starts with a strong foundation in the form of strength training. Without proper strength training, your muscles will not be able to function properly when you begin your running program.
The best way to build a solid base is by adding resistance exercises into your fitness routine 2-3 times per week - whether that’s lifting weights or using bands at the gym.
On days off from speed work and long runs, feel free to hit the pool for some cardio or try out a mixed martial arts class for an even greater challenge!
Don’t Forget To Warm Up!
Heat exhaustion isn’t something that just suddenly happens - there are warning signs before the condition takes hold.
Paying attention to these signals can help prevent things from getting too serious - but treatment should begin immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:
- extreme fatigue or weakness
If it’s not treated, heat exhaustion can lead to more serious conditions that include organ failure and even death - so never walk away from these warning signs!
Get a Good Night's Sleep
Most people know that their bodies need rest and recovery after a tough workout - but there’s more to it than just “sleeping as much as you can.”
Instead, you should consider what time of day your marathon is on - and then plan your sleep schedule around this!
For example: if the race starts at 7 am, you would want to go to bed by 10 pm the night before so that you can get plenty of shuteye (8-9 hours) and an early start towards recovery!
Eat Healthy Foods That Are Easy to Digest
Eating foods that are easier to digest and that contain more carbs and amino acids than animal proteins can help boost your metabolism in the days before a race.
If you’re not sure what to include, grab some bananas, toast with peanut butter, or even some baked potatoes.
These are just a few examples - but whatever you choose, make sure it’s something that will give your body the extra energy that it needs. If you have time, cook up these meals during the day so they’ll be ready to go when you get home!
Keep Your Marathon Training Fun!
If you find yourself bored or struggling to keep up with the pace, don’t treat every run like a race until it’s time for race day.
Instead, gear your training to include slower-than-race-pace workouts at least once per week; this will help mentally as well as physically if you can turn an average workout into something more exciting by incorporating music or podcasts.
Make sure you schedule fun runs (or walks!) throughout the year so that you never lose touch with why you started running in the first place.
Find a marathon in your area and sign up
This will help you provide a goal and will give you time to work towards being fully prepared to complete the race!
Make sure that if you’re training for a marathon, you never skip your long runs - these are very important parts of the process and help mentally as much as physically.
Again, make sure to find workouts that keep you positive about running instead of dreading them every day! If it helps, create a playlist ahead of time with your favourite songs or download some podcasts that can help take your mind off the miles.
Prepare for race day by making sure you have all your gear ready to go
By making sure you're prepared and have everything you need, it means you are not going to have any excuses in the event of a disaster - and in this case, every second counts!
The three most essential items you’ll need on race day are:
- waterproof jacket or poncho
- sunscreen for protection against UV rays
- headband or visor [if you have long hair] - sweat will pour down your face if it’s windy outside! Something that will keep it out of your eyes is a must.
Finally, before the race starts, don't forget to take in some carbs and hydrate. If you plan on running for more than an hour or two, make sure you have water with electrolytes (i.e., Gatorade) that will help keep your body properly balanced during the run.
If at any point during training it seemed like something was wrong - if you started feeling sick or had strange leg cramps - tell someone! It's better to get early treatment for heat exhaustion than wait until things go from bad to worse.
If you're going to be running a marathon, make sure you plan ahead - and then enjoy the race!
What sort of things do you do to prepare for races? Let me know in the comments below!
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Thanks for reading!