17 running tips for marathon training that really work
1. Choose quality runs over quantity. Marathon beginners often make the mistake of thinking that more is better when practicing. Well, this is not always the case. It’s more important to have few effective training sessions than going on multiple training runs that don’t end up contributing much to your preparedness. Three runs weekly is a good way to start your marathon-running journey as a beginner. The first session should be at a threshold pace, followed by either of the sprint/hills session and finally a long slow session.
2. Ensure that you do not raise your weekly long slow run distance by over 10%. Your body needs time to adjust when you’re trying to increase your running distance, so it’s important to factor this in when trying to achiever longer miles. Remember, slow and steady wins the race!
3. Do a prior check on your next marathon route. Your training conditions should resemble, as closely as possible, what you’ll experience on the actual marathon track. For instance, if there is a hill along the route, add a bit of hill training to your session, and if you observe cases of off-roads, factor in some trail running in your training. In cases of cobbles, you’d need a session of cobble running. This will prepare your body for the race proper and you’ll know what to expect.
4. Get your diet right. Marathons require a substantial amount of energy – it is what keeps you going. However, while energy gels can suit some people’s body, it can make others vomit. Be sure that whatever energy gels or drinks you ingest on race day are ones you have taken before, you never can tell how your body might react to a new product.
5. Start practicing with your new trainers early enough. Getting your trainers early, if required, will help you get settled fast. A time frame of four weeks before the D-day would be a good way to acclimatize your feet to the feel of the new running shoes and give you a better chance at completing the marathon or even clinching a top three position – fingers crossed 😊.
6. Take part in short races in the course of your marathon training. Let’s assume that you have eight weeks to prepare for the race, you can sign up for a half marathon. Although running within a large number of people can be initially tedious, you will get used to it with time and ultimately improve your speed.
7. Develop a plan. Just like any endeavour in life, you need a plan, especially if it is your first ever race. Your plan must factor in both pacey and long slow runs. Ideally, you should be recording 60-90 seconds lesser per mile on such runs than the time per mile in the real race. Understand your pace and master it through training – this will determine your eventual speed on the day of the marathon.
8. Don’t be too pacey at the beginning of the race. Undoubtedly, your energy and adrenaline are high at the early stages of the race. However, running at high speeds initially will only fatigue you earlier than expected (perhaps, before reaching 26.2 miles). Instead, stick to your devised plan, and if you are feeling good after covering 18-19 miles, put in a little more speed, while taking into consideration the extra miles ahead.
9. The best time to be hydrated is the day before the race, and not on the morning of the race day. It’s best if you have an almost clear coloured pee before going to bed on the night preceding the race day. Likewise, getting well hydrated on the night before will ensure that you do not drink too much the next morning while removing any last minute rush to use the toilet.
10. Be on the ground very early. This gives you much time to prepare and rest before the race. Also, you will not experience the stress that comes with rushing, which ultimately takes away your focus on the race.
11. Spoil yourself, a bit. Keep face towels or flip-flops with your friends at the drop-off, alongside some sweet edibles that can be easily digested on the run.
12. The number of sessions for each week. While the number depends on an individual, three times can be a realistic idea consisting of one long run and two short runs.
13. Weekly target distances per session, depending on the marathon. During preparation, your weekly distance should be a bit longer than the actual distance of the marathon. For example, if it’s going to be a 30 km race, then you should be aiming for between 32 and 35 kilometers weekly.
14. Building up distance and achieving a uniform pace. This depends largely on the individual – there are no hard and fast rules that guide choosing a uniform pace. The mistake most people make is to underestimate the marathon distance. Thus they rush and end up fatigued a few kilometers into the race. You can work out your pace by working backward from your proposed time of completion of the marathon. For instance, a 5-minute mile may require three hours and 30 minutes to complete, which means you can run at different speeds per mile.
15. Combine different kinds of running sessions. When you combine time trails, hills, intervals, and Fartlek among others, you will not be only improving your leg strengths but also improving your resistance skills. Try to maintain a stable pace in every training run, irrespective of the distance.
16. Take days off. You need to rest, as much as you need to train. If you have no viable recovery plan, your marathon plan would be adversely affected. Consume sufficient amount of carbohydrates, proteins, and keep your body system well-hydrated.
17. Stretching. Before you get on the track, ensure there are no cramps and your tissues are well stretched and kept flexible. This eases your paces. Likewise, moving your feet, hamstrings, hips, ankles, and spine in various three-dimensional directions will get your body ready to face the challenges of a marathon race. This is even more useful in marathons where the courses run cross-country or off the road.
Sticking to these tips as a beginner marathon sprinter not only get you started strong but also increase your chances of coming out tops.