Running a marathon may seem like an intimidating and exhausting activity for a lot of people. Still, with enough training and preparation, anyone can go from a regular couch potato to a marathon runner. Completing an entire 26.2-mile run is indeed a fantastic accomplishment.
Whether it’s a personal challenge or it’s your way of testing your limits, whatever the reason is, it should be enough to carry you through your training. There will be times when you are too sleepy to get up from bed or when your legs get too tired. Your reason should give you the motivation needed to push through.
What To Expect
The actual marathon is short compared to the amount of time and effort you will spend preparing for it. The training begins from fueling up on the right sustenance for the training to the actual training itself. This includes motivating yourself during the times when you feel tired.
Expect it to take a lot of your free time, which is why it is recommended that you inform your spouse, friends, and relatives that they won’t be seeing you for a few months leading to the event. 26.2 miles is significantly a long way, and there is no proven shortcut. However, fortunately for you, we have compiled the most important information and tips to prepare you for your first marathon.
Getting Started: The Best Way To Fuel Your Body For A Marathon
Increase Protein Intake
A surge in protein intake is one of the best ways to fuel the body when preparing for a marathon. Protein helps build muscle, recover from injuries faster, or avoid injuries altogether. Runners need around 75 percent more protein a day than non-runners. One of the best options for planning your meal is 200g of chicken a day.
Additionally, chicken contains several bonus benefits that include selenium and niacin. Selenium helps protect muscles from free-radical damage during exercise. Niacin, on the other hand, helps regulate fat burning while running.
Don’t Go Overboard On Carbs
While it is true that carbs provide energy for running, putting on weight because of overdoing carbs is not going to help you during the marathon. As such, an upcoming marathon is not an excuse to binge on pasta, rice, and pastries. Make sure that the carbs your taking is in line with the amount of running you are doing.
While it is an apparent necessity, hydration is even more essential when training for a marathon. Drinking water helps regulate body temperature, flush out toxins and, most importantly, ensure that your joints are sufficiently lubricated. The rule of thumb is to drink around four sips of water every 15 minutes while running. However, it is equally as important not to exceed 600ml of water per hour running.
Fueling At Mid-run
Throughout 26.2 miles, your body won’t have enough bost without fueling every 30 to 45 minutes. It is ideal to stay ahead of any feeling of exhaustion, which is why taking in 30g of carbs per hour helps provide a consistent run. It helps to practice this routine early in your training.
There is a 30-45 minute window of time when your body is very receptive to nutrition to build and repair muscles. It is recommended to take in a small meal of a combination of protein and carbs.
Actual Training: Plan For A Progressive Training Program
Training for absolutely anything requires progression. Instead of going straight from zero to the full 26.2-mile run, it is highly recommended to do it in steps, especially when it is your first time. The four-part training plan, for instance, gives you levels of progression that include zero to 5k, 10k, half marathon, and further advancing to a half marathon until you get to the full 26.2 miles.
Everyone progresses differently, but the average time to complete each level is four weeks, which includes rest and recovery days. It is ideal to complete the four-part training plan in 16 weeks.
Find Your Pace
A lot of runners do not pace themselves well during marathons. A study conducted by Spanish researchers in 2013 found that 45 percent of marathon runners decreased their speed at around 15 percent from when they started until they reached the finish line. Gradually slowing down during a marathon comes with a great deal of suffering while maintaining an ideal pace adds up to a satisfying experience.
There are several ways for you to find your ideal pace. One of which is by not slowing down during your long runs. If, at any point, you are forced to slow down, start your next race at a slower pace. As your training progress, you should be able to predict your speed based on your abilities accurately.
Work On Your Speed
Speed is an optional element of the training. However, the benefits are highly fulfilling. Working on speed increases endurance and makes shorts runs feel even more effortless. Interval and tempo runs are the most effective exercises to increase running speed.
Interval runs are a set of sustainable sprints with intervals of jogs. Tempo runs, on the other hand, are generally farther than a range. Depending on your progress, tempo runs require you to run at a challenging but sustainable pace.
Race Day Tips
It is important to hydrate well during the days leading to the marathon. Drink plenty of water the night before the race and drink another glass first thing in the morning. During the actual race, avoid drinking large volumes of fluid at one time to prevent stomach stitches.
Drink little and often to rehydrate. Don’t chug as drinking too much would make you fill full. Moreover, eat breakfast several hours before the race to prevent stomach discomfort.
Make sure not to try anything new during the day of the race, such as new shoes, shorts, or a new shirt. Lathering up with a little Vaseline or BodyGlide in areas prone to chafing won’t hurt too. Lastly, make sure not to take more cups of coffee than what you usually have.