Getting through a marathon can be a long and daunting task, but often it’s just the getting started that is the problem. Here are some great and effective tips on finding your stride and crossing the finish line.
Give yourself time – train smart
When we start training for a marathon we are often beaming with motivation, but the main downfall most runners face is not allowing themselves enough time for training. Due to this, people ˈover-trainˈ and push themselves too far, which can lead to injuries and fatigue.
So train smart, set out a three- or four-month marathon schedule that can help ease you into the process. Try to set out your training in phases; start with a warm-up phase of a few weeks, then a high intense phase, which will become even more intense in the third phase. The last phase, however, should be your cool-down phase or the ˈtapperˈ phase. It may seem counterproductive to slow down your training, but this will benefit you greatly before a marathon. Two weeks before your marathon start reducing your miles, but not drastically. Whatever amount of miles you had run at your peak you should cut down by 20-30 %. This will allow you to reserve some energy for the marathon and reduce your risk of injury.
Rest up – you need it!
Going full pedal six to seven days a week is more likely to hinder your training than benefit it, especially if you’re a beginner. Your rest days are just as important as your running days, as they will promote your body to recover between runs.
If you are a beginner, it would be best to train two to three days a week. If you are a regular marathon veteran you could probably do around four to five days.
Running can become an obsessive habit, but it is important to let yourself rest and maybe see some familiar faces that aren’t the runners you pass on the street.
Don’t count the minutes, count the miles
It's normal to want to come first, but in a marathon that isn’t important. Running the fastest shouldn’t be your main goal, the most important thing is just to cross the finish line. That is a big achievement in itself.
So when training just keep in mind you're not running a 100 m sprint. Wasting all your energy at the start of a marathon will only harm your chances of passing the finish line. So when you do start training forget the time it takes you to reach a certain mile. Just be proud that you reached it at all.
Cross training – don’t just run
On the day of the marathon, it's just about running, but that doesn’t necessarily mean your training routine should be. Each week you should aim to do some cross training exercises. This can involve any other exercise apart from running. You could take up swimming, biking or even a Zumba class one day a week. This will help you use muscles that running doesn’t work out, and by strengthening these muscles you will also improve your running.
Take care of yourself
To achieve your running goals you might start neglecting your health, but you should never run yourself sick. Here are some tips to staying healthy whilst training.
- If you have a sharp pain whilst running don’t ˈrun through the painˈ, let yourself rest for a few minutes. If it doesn’t stop, don’t carry on running
- Always stretch before and after a run. Never neglect this step as it will help you from injuring yourself
- Don’t avoid carbs. Always try to have a source of carbs before and after a run. In the end, you need fuel to keep your energy up
- Keep yourself hydrated
- Get some proper running trainers - make sure they have supported soles that will protect your feet.