Training for a marathon is not something to be taken lightly. Training for a marathon is an amazing goal for any runner but it takes time and commitment, for many will start to train a year before trying to complete one.
Establishing a good running habit is vital and some runners may prefer to take on a half-marathon before committing to a full one, which can be a good idea as getting some experience is great preparation for the big one!
Before you start your training
There are few key things that should be undertaken before you start your exercise programme.
- Correct clothing. You do not need to buy very expensive gear, but the right running shoes are very important, for your running style, foot type and gait. Wearing the correct shoes will keep you comfortable and injury free. For women, finding the right sports bra is also very important.
- Weather. You will be training through all four seasons, so ensure you have the right clothing and take some time researching about what is involved in running in the rain, heat, cold and ice.
- Nutrition. If you already have a healthy diet that is great, but when you are running several miles per week, you may have to increase your calorie intake and ensure you are properly fuelled. Carbohydrates are a rich source of calories and are extremely important.
- Nutritional supplements. You may wish to start using nutritional supplements during your training runs once they start exceeding 15 miles. Energy gels are a very handy thing to carry with you. Protein shakes are good to use for post run which will help aid muscular recovery and prevent injury.
Challenges you may face during training
Training for a marathon requires both physical and mental strength and pure dedication, especially when you may have some challenges that get in the way.
Long distance runs – Each week you will do a long-distance run, gradually increasing the distance that you run by one or two miles per week. The main reason for practicing a long run is to build up on your endurance, practice how your body manages the distance, teach your body to burn fat as its fuel, and to build up mental and physical strength in preparation for the big day.
Injuries – Runners will get injuries, but most can be prevented if the correct footwear is worn, pre and post-stretches are done, and not over doing yourself too quickly. Working with a sports physiotherapist can be very beneficial to you, to ensure you are stretching correctly and to help prevent any injuries.
Motivation – Training for a marathon is a long process and staying motivated throughout is key. You will have some bad days compared to your good days, but there are some strategies to get you through this and keep you motivated:
- Try and run in the morning
- Work with a personal trainer
- Try and have a running partner
- Keep the vision in your head
- Commit to the race – sign up
- Ensure you have the breaks your body needs
- Add variety and change up where you are running
- Set yourself goals
- Reward yourself at each set goal
Leading up to the big day, there are some preparations you can undertake
- Try not to get stressed about your marathon and try to get as much sleep as possible in the weeks leading up to the big day
- Try to do some exercises to raise your heartbeat prior to each run. Things like jogging on spot, skipping and star jumps all help to get your body warm and prevent injury before you start your run
- Having a post training massage can be good for aches and pains and for your muscle flexibility, and having sports physiotherapy will help you target these areas and help loosen any tight muscles you may have
- Strength training is an essential part of training to a runner because it helps to strengthen your joints and muscles, which will decrease injury and improve your speed.
- Getting into the habit of using a foam roller after every run, again this is to ensure your muscles are nice and supple
- Leading up to the big run its important to rest your body for two weeks, maybe just do some lighter runs. But the last big run before your marathon should be at least 2 weeks before
- Staying off your feet the day before the marathon will be beneficial and do not try and experiment with any new foods or drinks before the big day
- Give yourself plenty of time to arrive there, ensure you have used the bathroom, check your water bottle and try to get as many friends and family there to support you at the half way mark and at the finishing line. Seeing them cheering you on is a great motivation to carry on!
- Running a marathon is a huge mental challenge because it requires you to push through mental barriers and to make quick, strategic decisions through the race. One of the biggest mistakes first time marathoners make is that they start out the race too fast and burn themselves out too quickly
- You’ll definitely feel good during those first few miles but remember to pace yourself as you have a long way to go. Just keep thinking about the finishing line and the way you will feel when you get there!
If you would like to talk to us at Home Physio Group and help you with your training, please contact us on 0330 335 1016.