The decision to go for the first marathon is exciting but can also be daunting. For most, getting to this point requires a lot of consideration, because it will take a lot of time and effort to be ready. A marathon is not something that one just resolves to do a week before the run, even if he/she is already fit. The way to a successful performance is to train properly, aiming for longer runs or intensifying the workout slowly to build strength and endurance. More than just preparing the body, the mental state is just as important before and during the run. Maintaining motivation and focus will be vital to stick to the training schedule and to simply keep going.
Many things are also considered as part of marathon preparation. These include proper nutrition, enough sleep, and even the right equipment. Getting a full medical check-up is also vital before the start of training will make sure that you are healthy enough for the training and the full marathon as well.
Here are also some general things to have in mind when preparing for the marathon:
- Listen To Your Body
For beginners, doing a marathon is already pushing the body enough. The training will also be tough, so make sure that you take great care to avoid ending up with an injury. If, while running, it doesn’t feel right or that it is too much for your body, take a break or get advice from a specialist. Once you get injured, you will be back to square one and you will need time to get back. After a workout, change into dry clothes and make sure you are always hydrated. Getting sick is also not fun or good when you have a running schedule to follow.
- Do Not Overtrain
When you start early enough, you have enough time to train slowly, increasing in intensity every week. Doing too much will put you at risk for injury and you might get too tired and lose motivation. Moreover, your body needs time to build strength and endurance, so do not force it. You will find yourself being able to run further as the weeks pass.
- Enjoy The Run
Whatever your reason is for doing a marathon, make sure that you are also having fun while doing so. This is very important to keep your motivation and will make all this time spent on training enjoyable as well.
- Invest In Good Equipment
You will be running a very long distance during your marathon, so you need shoes that can withstand all this strain. This is also important to keep yourself safe from getting injured. You can also have 2 pairs of running shoes during this time that you can alternate to avoid overuse. Make sure that you also replace them in time, after 500 miles or so. Breaking in the shoes before the marathon is also very important.
- Make A Good Plan
Giving yourself enough time to train will allow you to develop a good schedule and an easy progression until the date of the marathon. If you are a beginner, make sure you have even more time. Target around 2 to 3 runs weekly. You can also work with a trainer to help you design a good plan, or simply follow existing training models out there.
- Try Cross-Training
Cross-training can be a good addition to mix up your routine and help build up your body for the marathon. Try swimming, deep-water running or even cycling so you can improve deep breathing, develop running muscles, strengthen your cardiovascular system, or increase aerobic endurance.
- Run On The Treadmill At Home
Using that treadmill at home or at the gym will help you keep to your training schedule even when the weather is not great for outside running. Moreover, there are ways to vary the run through setting the incline or pace to make it more difficult and build resistance.
- Nutrition and Hydration
Your body should be supported by the right nutrition and enough water to have energy and fuel while working out. Your diet should have the right carbohydrates (like muesli or oatmeal) and good fats (omega-3s found in salmon and fish oil), accompanied by lots of water. A good breakfast in the mornings after training will help your body recover too.
Remember, when you are doing long runs, you are putting your body under immense strain and pressure. Your body will need enough time to recover afterward, so sometimes even 8 hours of sleep are not enough.
- Gain Support
Having the support of family and friends will help sustain you when your body is so tired and you just want to give up. They can either go running with you to keep you company or simply keep tabs during your training. Seeing them at the end of the finish line will also be great, and you can definitely share your achievement with them!