If you want to run a marathon, you need to be ready for one of the toughest things you can put your body through – with the right training, a marathon will be a great experience.
The key to running a marathon is to know what you’re doing – that means not only training, but training the right way. If you’re serious about running a marathon, you need to properly prepare.
Here’s how to prepare for a marathon.
Prepare Before You Prepare
One of the key elements of training for a marathon is sticking to your training schedule, and we’ll get to that. But there’s something you need to do before you even start your schedule, and that’s getting your base mileage up. It’s very hard to go from running 0 miles to training for a marathon the way that you’re supposed to; instead, you should get used to running a certain amount every week, like 20 or 25 miles over a few days. That way, it’ll be far less likely you get injured when you eventually put yourself into the grueling grind of preparing for the actual race, and you’ll also need far less time to adjust to the new strains.
Eat And Drink Well
Running a marathon is more than a commitment to just exercising a certain number of times per week. It also involves potentially changing the way you live, to some extent. The first way to do that is by altering what you eat and drink. Marathon training requires a tremendous number of calories and a large strain on your body’s ability to stay hydrated, and you have to respect that throughout the training process. That means regular carbohydrates and protein intake to replenish what your body uses up during training; it also means frequent water drinking, particular before and after runs, and access to fluids during your long runs. And it also means that you probably shouldn’t have many alcoholic drinks the night before a run, if any, or a huge burger and fries; these are things that essentially sabotage your own body. It’s got enough to worry about just running the miles.
Allow Yourself To Recover
A trap that many new runners fall into when they’re training for their first marathon is that they actually train too much. It’s surprisingly easy to do so; you’re excited, and you want to make sure your body is in peak physical form before you undertake the actual marathon. But there’s a reason that plans are designed the way they are: your body can just as easily break down under the stress of the training as it can be undertrained for the eventual race. That means you need to make sure you stick to your plan even if you’re feeling great, and that you don’t try and push yourself through injuries and potential pain. You also want to respect off days and make sure you’re sleeping and resting enough; otherwise, you’re just making things harder.
Pick An Appropriate Training Schedule
There isn’t one right way to prep for a marathon, because there isn’t one kind of runner. Some people who have already run a few marathons and know what they’re doing can go out and run a ton of miles in advance of the race, hoping to beat their previous time. Others just want to finish. And there are different ways of training for each type of runner, involving different amounts of mileage in advance of the race, a different number of times running per week, and different types of workouts mixed in. Be sure not to try and overextend yourself in the training plan you pick — if you’re a beginner, there’s nothing wrong with running a beginner plan.
The most important element of training for a marathon is that if you’re going to do it, you have to do it. That means not bailing on your long runs, and not neglecting your body during the week. It’ll be a grueling and intense four months, but it’ll be worth it when you finish the marathon. What’s far worse is skimping on the training, then not being able to do the marathon. If you’re going to do it, you need to do it.