“But I also realize that winning doesn’t always mean getting first place; it means getting the best out of yourself.” – Meb Keflezighi
It may seem that running 26.2 miles is a lot for you to handle, but it is not impossible. The moment you realize this will be the first step in your marathon training. It requires hard work, time and perseverance, and if you can race a 10k, be sure that you can also run a marathon. Here are some tips for first-timers on how to prepare your body for this adventure.
1. Do Not Overtrain
Instead of running too much to feel eager and strong, simply run enough. It is better to be slightly undertrained because training too hard does no good to your body. The most important thing is to stay healthy and not get injured. Just find a line between the two and stick to it.
2. Start Small And Build Slowly
Start by extending long runs by one or two miles, and take days off. No more than 10% per week should your mileage be increased, so this should be performed gradually. As the days and weeks of training go by, successfully finishing a marathon will slowly become a fair possibility in your mind. Stick with it. Find yourself some quality gym clothing and running shoes, and follow your plan.
3. Take Time To Recover
Recovery is as important as the training itself. Do not bother to train hard every day of the week. Take at least 2-3 days per week to recover from the stress you put on your body and never perform a workout on designated rest days. Three to four runs a week will improve your running time as much as if you trained every single day, which was proven in a study by the University of Northern Iowa.
4. Importance Of Long Runs
As they build the endurance necessary to finish a run, your long runs are the most important part of your workouts. The main purpose of these runs is to make your body accustomed to staying on your feet up to four or more hours. You can stop at three hours or go further, but with walking breaks. Everything works as long as you feel strong and healthy when you get to the starting line. Also, make sure that you practice your marathon pace as well.
5. Proper Diet
Keep in mind that you need plenty of calcium and iron (which is lost through pounding and sweating). Protein and glycogen, needed for muscle tissue repairing, is provided through carbohydrates. The required amount of calories per day is 2500 – 65% should come from (complex) carbs, 25% from unsaturated fats, and 10% from protein. Also, take multi-vitamins as a supplement for minerals.
In order to avoid sidestep injuries, try to cross-train for a few days a week at the first hint of a physical problem. What helps marathon runners in maintaining a good running pace and form late in a race is precisely core stability, so include core training in your fitness regimen.
7. Do Not Forget To Taper
After a three-week taper, there is a gain in Type IIa muscle fiber strength, your aerobic muscles adapt and your performance gets improved. Runners usually hate to taper, but your chances of running a marathon are increased once you manage to cover all the basics.
The most important thing is staying healthy but also staying self-aware by considering your current abilities. Could you run six miles without any particular effort? Before you start your marathon training program, you should train and build up to that level. Run a pace according to your fitness level after your workouts, listen to what your body tells you, and do not rush or compare yourself to others (running partners, family members, or friends).
Samantha has a B.Sc. in nutrition and has spent two years working as a personal trainer. Since then, she has embarked on a mission to conquer the blogosphere. When not in the gym or on the track, you can find her on Twitter, or in a tea shop.