If you’ve ever considered running a marathon, first of all, kudos to you! Not many people have the drive or the stamina to run this admittedly difficult race. So for those of you who have the desire to run one – and do so properly – start with these tips.
- Use a realistic time table. Plan to train anywhere from 16 to 20 weeks to properly prepare. Runner’s World suggests starting three to six months ahead of time, running four times per week. A more aggressive training schedule risks injury. Ideally, develop the capacity to comfortably run six miles. Run shorter races fairly regularly to build up endurance.
- Set goals for yourself. Motivation drives every marathoner: They know why they want to run and have benchmarks they reach during training to stay focused and positive. Think about goals involving miles per week/training session and minutes per mile if you want to focus on speed. Fair warning: Running a marathon to lose weight usually doesn’t work as well as simply doing one for the sheer accomplishment of completing the race.
- Set up a training schedule. Most of us have fairly busy lives, so figure out when you can commit to getting your running in. This may require some adjustment of your daily schedule to factor that in. You’ll also want to do different types of running, ranging from long runs (4-10 miles, depending on your level, at a sustainable pace) to short, interval runs (e.g., 4 x 1-mile runs at a hard pace with five minutes at an easy pace in between).
- Hydrate and eat right. Always have plenty of water on hand; as you run, your body will need more replenishment of fluids than usual. This may require carrying a water bottle or planning your runs around known water fountains. Dehydration can derail even the strongest runner! You’ll also need healthy carbs to give your body the energy it needs to keep going. Consider having energy bars/gels or fresh fruit handy after a run (and consume 60g of carbs an hour for any run over two hours).
- Let yourself recover. One of the most important parts of your training involves resting between runs. You need days where you don’t run, allowing your muscles to recover. If you must move on your off days, cross-train; just keep it relatively low-impact. You should also taper off your runs leading up to the race, running shorter distances and easier routes as you get closer to the actual day.
Running a marathon is just that: slow and steady, consistent training. Good luck, and follow these tips to have your most successful race. Read our related health and wellness blogs today!