If you are a runner who likes challenges, chances are you have run a few 5K and 10K races. It is exhilarating to push yourself to the limit and cross the finish line with fellow runners. Have you thought it may be time to up your game to a marathon?
Marathons are the ultimate challenge for runners, requiring months of preparation both physically and mentally. You need stamina and resolve to finish a marathon. If you are ready to take on this extreme challenge, then keep reading to learn the best methods to prepare for a marathon.
Don’t expect to run a marathon well after two months training. Getting your mileage to marathon distance takes months, so check out marathons a year down the road. Next, schedule a trip to your doctor. Upping your mileage for a marathon will make unique demands on your health, and you want to be sure your heart and body are up for it.
Now with your goal set, and your doctor’s approval, you’re ready to pick a marathon. You can pick a marathon based on the course difficulty, the location’s weather or air quality, or whether it’s a qualifier for other races. There are marathons year-round, although many are in the fall. You can find them in every region of the US – over 1,100 annually. Some have limited entry numbers and run lotteries or other methods of runner selection, so check the rules carefully and consider a back-up marathon in case you don’t get your first choice.
The best gear
A big mistake runners make is not running in the right shoes. Aside from blisters and callouses, the wrong shoes, or even worn out shoes, can cause major muscle pains and leg injuries. Invest in a top brand of shoes, and replace according to recommended guidelines. Be sure to test the brand of shoe you intend to use in a shorter race to make sure they will live up to your expectations. Clothes can also irritate your skin, so wear clothes that will wick moisture, and take some trial runs in them to make sure they won’t be chafing. Don’t forget sun protection; wear a hat and sunglasses.
Socks are part of your gear, and one way to protect your feet is with compression socks that will comfort your feet and eliminate friction. And you don’t have to limit yourself to socks. Compression gear for arms, the back and more is available on the business page of Tommie Copper, and the company infuses its fabric with copper and zinc for amazing benefits. Their products can help you soothe sore muscles and heal injuries more quickly.
Your training plan
In your training, you’ll want to develop a weekly base mileage, and increase it about 10% weekly. Your long-term goal is to run 50 miles per week. You should run about four times a week.
Every seven to ten days, you’ll go on a distance run. By the time your marathon arrives, you want to be able to run 20 miles. This can include running shorter races, and even a half marathon, which will help you test your mental and physical endurance.
Develop your cardio with speed work or tempo runs that help hone your marathon pace.
You need to rest your muscles, so take days off from running. It’s important to rest before the marathon, as well as to taper your mileage a couple weeks before the event.
Once you have picked your race, learn about the course’s layout. Is it flat or hilly? On roads or dirt? Once you know this, incorporate runs that include the terrain type in your routine. Use a treadmill to mimic conditions if necessary.
Practice hydration. Water isn’t enough to get your through a marathon, so test different products to see which ones will best replenish your body throughout the run.
Watch what you eat! Carbo-loading in the days before the race should take priority over fat and protein.
Stick to your plan as best you can, but allow enough flexibility for sick days, rainy or windy days, or days you just can’t find time to run as long as you want
It’s one thing to resolve to run a marathon. Physically, you may be more than able to do it, but mentally, you need to prepare for the challenge. Use visualization exercises to see the course, and to see yourself running it successfully. Use meditation to lower your stress level, and avoid large stressors in the few weeks before your marathon. Meditation is also a great way to affirm your commitment, by affirming your goals and your success daily.
Now that you have a plan, you are ready to start training. Have fun in your endeavors as you go for that finish line.