By Jubika Khanna | Team Fitpass
A popular goal for fitness enthusiasts is running marathons. When you decide to take part in a marathon, it doesn't really set in until you hit the road and accomplish long runs. Running a marathon requires a lot of endurance and a great deal of dedication. From injuries and exhaustion to terrible weather and everything in between, there are certain strategies and techniques that can help you most efficiently plan for your next marathon and reach the finish line.
Before You Begin
You might not even know it, but your preparation to run a marathon is underway even before your feet hit the pavement. Your first task is to know your body’s limits. If you have suffered any injuries in the past, they might create difficulty in your training. We suggest you consult your doctor before you begin training. Once your body is ready to take this challenge, find the marathon that you want to run so you have a specific date to push towards. Your training will be different if the marathon is three months away, than if the marathon is in three weeks. We suggest you give yourself a year full of running 20-30 miles a week before devoting yourself to a training program.
Everyone has their own individual training techniques, yet we all feel similar as soon as we are next to the starting line. Running a successful marathon requires developing core elements. We recommend running two big runs per week. Along with this, it is crucial to get your recovery runs as well. So we suggest that you go for 2-3 small distance runs per week to keep your legs fresh and strong. Personally, we recommend that every few weeks you take it easy and only schedule one big run and one short run. Give your legs the time to recover more than they would normally be able to. Increase the number of both long and short runs, once you get fitter, until your long run is close to 10 miles and your short run is close to 6 miles. Add an extra mile to your run every week.
Have your last small run a week before the marathon. Nothing strenuous, just a 5 mile run and let your legs relax. With about 3/4 days to go, to help get fresh oxygenated blood into the muscles, take a small walk and then rest for the remaining 3/4 days. Just proper nutrition and hydration, no runs!
Do not overlook your nutrition. First time runners have the tendency to make this mistake. This is what is going to give you your best performance and help you recover well too. Each person requires different amounts of calories, so this is where you should monitor your body weight once a week to see how much you’re losing, or if you’re staying the same. High carb and protein foods are extremely essential! Carb foods such as pasta, potatoes, rice, oats etc will give you the energy to pound the roads mile after mile. If you are trying to run a marathon to lose weight, which we hear so many people say, it is not ideal with a low carb low calorie diet. You will lose weight whilst training for the marathon (if you train properly), so there is absolutely no need to drop calories or carbs. If anything, increase them - you will still lose weight! Make sure to eat a good amount of protein with each meal to help the repairing phase of your muscles.
A couple of days before the marathon (if the marathon is on the Sunday you should start this on Friday morning) you should start increasing your carbohydrate intake even more. This is known as carb loading. Come race day and you’ll be well carbed to make it to the end.
Make sure you keep yourself hydrated. If you ever feel thirsty then you know you’re already effectively dehydrated. Make sure to consume electrolytes before and during the race. Electrolytes contain minerals, vitamins and salts which will help prevent cramps, as will water. Do not just consume water, it’s crucial to have electrolytes too.
Before The Big Day
Get good rest leading up to the marathon. And if it’s your first marathon and you’re extremely excited, try your absolute best to stay calm and composed! Your over excitement can pump adrenaline for hours/days, and that is a one way ticket to internal physical fatigue, cramps, and the end of a good marathon. No matter how well you fuel your body, if you’ve had days of adrenaline in your body you can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be performing well.
Most importantly, enjoy the experience and take it all in!