Safely Train For A Marathon The Correct Way
Just the thought of a marathon itself can be daunting. “Seriously? 26 miles? Just running? What masochist ever thought that was a good idea?” Then, maybe, you ran your first mile and that was soon followed by a 5k. You made new friends and experienced the “runner’s high”. You had new muscle definition in your legs and more energy.
And, just like that, running a marathon didn’t seem so crazy after all. Training safely for a marathon takes a bit of planning and time, but taking it slowly and thoughtfully will ensure you keep running for many marathons to come.
Slow and Steady Finishes the Race
It’s important to find a training program that builds slowly and gives your body time to adjust. You’ll want to give yourself at least six months to work up to running a marathon. Don’t try to push yourself too hard at the beginning; you don’t want to mentally burn out or seriously injure yourself. Remember, you will need to stay mentally strong as well as physically fit to complete your marathon.
Mix Up Your Workouts
In addition to one long run per week, try to fit in some shorter runs, interval runs and cross training. The longer runs should be at a slower pace than your other workouts; you want your body and mind to get used to the longer distances. The shorter runs will build up your cardio capacity and help you through the longer runs. For cross training, activities like cycling, running in water and exercising on the elliptical will give you a great workout but give your legs a rest. You can also do these when recovering from an injury so you don’t lose any momentum.
Don’t Forget to Rest
It’s essential to include recovery days in your training program. Your muscles will need time to rest and stave off injury. If you absolutely can’t be still, try some gentle activity, like yoga, to get the wiggles out of your system. It’s particularly important to scale back your running a bit in the weeks before the marathon so your body can completely recover and be ready to last 26.2 miles. Sitting in a hot tub can help ease your muscles and relax.
Eat, Drink and Run Merry
You’ll be asking a lot from your body as you train so don’t forget proper nutrition and hydration. Carbs will give you energy before and during your workouts. After your run, replenish those carbs and add a bit of protein to help your muscles recover. You’ll also need lots of fluids, either as water or sports drinks, to stay hydrated and healthy.
Remember, it doesn’t matter if you finish first or last just as long as you finish.