Your first marathon can be a nerve-wracking endeavor, if you let the enormity of the task takeover. When you sign-up for a marathon, you have to be ready to take on all the associated baggage that comes with running the 26.2-mile endurance race. It involves a lot more than just running and knowing about the hurdles that you need to overcome while building up to race-day can be highly beneficial.
Marathon training is a significant journey that alters our lifestyle by encouraging us to make positive choices with regards to diet, social life, and sleep patterns. The training process can become a lot more enjoyable by bringing friends and family members on board for added support.
As we know, marathon training is a consuming activity and requires commitment. However, celebrating your accomplishments along the way can make the process seem easier and more fun. Here are 5 important keys to preparation
#1 Start small and start early
Studies suggest that you should give yourself a realistic time period to build up to your first marathon while keeping your limits in mind. The human body adapts slowly and responds best to gradual increments in training stress.
Running a few short races (5k, 10k) and then a half-marathon is an excellent way to prepare for your first marathon. Building up weekly base mileage while doing one long run every 7-10 days is a consistent approach.
Practicing intervals and tempo runs as part of the training can enhance cardio capacity. Including rest as a part of the regime will help in avoiding mental burnout and excess fatigue.
#2 Preparing a foundation
Finding the right trainer/coach can simplify the process significantly. They can help you keep track of training goals and create boxes for you to tick off along the way. They can also provide timely support and encouragement when you most need it. Getting the right gear is important too. It is where you figure out the right footwear and get suitable clothing for those long runs.
Having the right gear also boosts your confidence with respect to achieving the ultimate goal. Finding a set of individuals to train with, who have similar goals and are willing to put in the effort, will keep you pushing.
#3 Choosing your first marathon
Marathon races can range from quiet, low-key races on backcountry roads to spectator-lined urban races with huge amounts of runners. To help you get used to what different races entail and identify your personal preference, cheer a friend at a marathon or volunteer.
Simulating the race course, if you do not have access to it, can also be a good option. Having low expectations from your first marathon is advisable as it will promote a nourishing first experience and will aid the completion. Breaking down the marathon course into smaller, digestible bits is another strategy that you can employ to figure out training routines and race rituals.
#4 Train smart and focus on nutrition
Staying injury free along the process is necessary. In case of injuries, getting the right help to keep up the training on alternate programs while allowing the injury to heal is particularly undervalued. One should also avoid running too much as it can hamper progress. Incorporating the right amount of rest and cutbacks is advised by professional marathon runners.
Adding weight training, cross training or yoga in place of that extra run is a smart way of preparing for a longer mileage run as your next run. Eating right is often neglected by first-time runners. Fueling up before runs and during runs is the path to sustained performance; staying hydrated can help you last longer. As with everything, you should try various types of fuel during your training runs to find out what works best at the right intervals.
#5 Getting ready for the race
In the two-three weeks leading up to the marathon, you should scale back on overall mileage and difficulty of runs; helping your body to stay injury free and well rested for the race. You should also try to find release valves in the form of communicating with your friends/family more often than usual in order to help you keep your mind off it. It can help in avoiding unnecessary race-related stress.
Keeping yourself motivated and inspired by looking at a set of mantras that gets you going, having your favourite playlist at hand, attributing each mile you run to people close to you are some tricks to help you get over the line. Having faith in your preparation and throwing any time-related goals out of the window will make for a smooth race.
It is important to remember the reason why you started until the end. Any excuses should be checked before they can creep in and create psychological barriers to training. Having a clear strategy for the race wherein you pace yourself from start to finish while including walking intervals as breathers for every mile is recommended.
It is paramount that you keep the journey enjoyable as you will only have one first time experience which will either get you hooked on or make you look away from marathon running.
Prior to the race, adequately hydrate yourself and eat a high carbohydrate content meal. Finally, review the course once again and check that all systems are a go.