Signing up to run the marathon distance of 26.2 miles is the first step towards becoming a marathon runner. Those who have already registered for race day will have experienced feelings of excitements as well as moments of self-doubt, and, of course, the wonderful range of responses from friends and family telling you you’re ‘crazy’ and ‘superhuman’.
Paying the entry fee for a marathon is one thing, but in order to make sure that you cross the finish line in one piece, adequate training is indispensable.
So, when it comes to preparing your body for the mammoth challenge of running 42.195Km, where do you start?
The answer to this question that is so common among new runners depends on your race-day goal. For instance, if you’re running your first marathon and you simply want to ensure that you cross the finish line, your training plan will vary from that of another runner looking to improve on a previous race time.
So, whether you want to find out more about the importance of a good training regime, learn about kitting yourself out for a successful race, or you’d simply like some guidance with your training, this article should have all the answers you’re looking for!
Knowing How to Train for a Marathon: Why is it so Important?
Many marathon runners will tell you that they found training to run 26.2 miles more difficult than running the actual race – but don’t take this to mean that you should attempt the race without any training at all. In fact, it’s likely that so many marathoners feel this way because they prepared their bodies to take on such a gruelling challenge of endurance and therefore found the race less challenging than before they began their training.
So, could you attempt to cross the finish line without having followed a marathon training plan? And what are the effects of skipping parts of your scheduled training runs?
Although it’s highly likely that any able-bodied person would be able to travel 26.2 miles with a combination of running and walking, it’s highly unadvisable. Running a marathon pushes your body to its limits. Not only does cardiovascular health play a big part when it comes to the effort you have to put into running, but dehydration and exhaustion pose serious risks for marathoners.
Fatalities at marathon events are anything but unheard of, and if the thought of potentially losing your life due to failure to prepare isn’t enough to get you to stick to your training schedule, then please, don’t sign up for the event in the first place.
Not only does adequate training significantly lower the chances of sustaining injuries and suffering from health problems as a result of the race, but it also speeds up the body’s recovery time. In other words, if your body is used to covering long distances and recovering during your training period, it will have less damage to repair post-marathon.
Marathon Training Equipment
New runners, and even those new to marathoning, often seek advice from various online platforms, magazines and running clubs on the equipment they need to purchase to help them prepare for their marathon event.
Here is a quick run-down of the all the essentials in the countdown until race day:
· Running Shoes
An obvious one, but don’t underestimate the importance of having a good pair of running shoes to see you through your training and eventually your marathon.
Good sports coach uk don’t have to cost the earth, but they do have to suit your foot shape and running style.
It’s highly advisable to seek professional advice when shopping for your ideal running shoes. Head to a running shop and have them analyse your gait (the way your feet land when you’re running) on a treadmill – this will help them narrow down the choice of shoes which is available to you. After this, it’s all about you. Choose the style and fit that feels best and make your purchase!
· Moisture-Wicking Clothing
When you’re running, you spend a lot of time sweating, and it’s important that this excess moisture is taken away from your skin as soon as possible in order to ensure a cooler, more comfortable run.
Moisture-wicking or tech clothing lifts the moisture from your body while you’re on the move, keeping your cool and ensuring that you dry off quickly once you cool down. Invest in some tech tees before race day and thank yourself for the comfort at around mile 20.
· Waist Pack
While you’re out and about on training runs, there are a few things you’ll need to take with you, such as your keys or mobile phone, for example. On race day, too, you’ll probably want to carry some protein bars and some money in case you need to get home.
All of these small yet essential things would usually go in your bag, however, it’s quite uncomfortable to carry a bag with you as you run, and the jingling of your keys becomes very annoying before too long.
Thankfully, there are many waist packs on the market in which runners can carry their belongings. They come in various styles, such as bum bags or belts – so have a look around and choose one that suits your needs as a runner!
· Anti-Chafing Balm
It’s not a pretty topic to address, but runners do suffer from chafing. The best way to avoid this issue is to apply an anti-chafing balm such as Body Glide to all of the problem areas on your body before going on a run.
Using a balm or jelly to prevent chafing will minimise discomfort and let you concentrate on getting the job done.
Keeping Track of Your Training Progress
In the time it takes you to train to run a marathon, you will change a lot both mentally and physically. You’ll start to notice your body becoming more toned and you’ll also realise that an 8Km training run feels almost like a day off, whereas it was the furthest you had ever run only a month ago.
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In order to full appreciate how far your marathon journey is taking you, it’s advisable to track your training. Whether it’s simply logging the distance you covered and keeping a diary of how each run went, or creating an Instagram account dedicated to achieving your goal, tracking your training will only add to the sense of pride once you’ve crossed the finish line on the day of your marathon event and become a true marathoner.
Here are a few of the most popular ways runners track their progress:
· Use a Running App
Apps like Strava and RunKeeper allow you to record and save your training runs on your phone – they can also be shared to your feed as a Facebook-style feature which your friends can view.
Apps can give feedback on your pace and mileage, as well as giving you an external source of motivation to get out of the door and log a new run!
· Keep a Running Diary
Keeping a diary of all of the runs you do with the distance and the time it takes you to complete them is great for having an at-a-glance progress log for you to refer to.
If you like, this can get creative and you can use your training diary as a running journal, writing about your running experiences once you’ve completed a run.
Running diaries are a great reminder of your running journey from the moment you cross the marathon finish line to decades later when you find this souvenir of your running experience in your attic.
· Share your Progress on Social Media
Nowadays it’s normal for people to log most aspects of their everyday lives on the internet to keep their loved ones updated with what they’re up to – so why not use social media as means of logging your progress and keeping yourself motivated in your training?
Many people create pages and profiles dedicated to their running journey so that they can join in with the rest of the running community whilst keeping their friends and family in-the-loop, and, like a training diary, you’ll be able to look back on it later and see just how far you’ve come.
Marathon Training Plan – Beginner
Runners are generally advised to spend up to 20 weeks (5 months) training to run a marathon. For some, this may seem like a bit much for one race, but it’s especially important that beginner runners get to know their personal running style and get used to covering such long distances.
Here is a quick breakdown of what a beginner marathon plan generally looks like:
- Weeks 1-4: Start by covering miles with a combination of running and walking. As your cardiovascular fitness improves and your body becomes stronger, try to run continuously without stopping to walk.
- Weeks 5-10: Up your mileage. This is the period in which you are training your body and mind to be able to cope with longer distances.
- Weeks 11-15: Continue to increase mileage and complete a half-marathon.
- Weeks 16-20: Continue to increase mileage up to around 18 miles before tapering and letting your body recover in preparation for the big event.
Marathon training plans vary from person to person, so don't be worried if you're advised to take a different approach to this plan!
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