When you are training for your first marathon, you’re not likely to have a personal trainer to teach you the right way to train for that marathon. When you don’t train properly for a marathon, you can end up hurting yourself either in the training process or during the marathon run. That’s because you either don’t train yourself properly, or (more commonly) train too hard out of ignorance of the proper training techniques.
Here is a solid, no-nonsense approach to training for your first marathon. Each marathon runner has a different health history, body type and level of training. So you’ll need to adjust your marathon training for your particular condition. Remember that overtraining places wear and tear on your body, causing you to burn out before the marathon and opening you up to a greater risk of injury.
How To Train For a Marathon – Training For Your First Marathon
Injuries while training can set you back weeks, forcing you to either forgo the marathon or step up training session to a dangerous level. So please follow these steps when training for your first marathon.
- Evaluate Your Ability Level – You need to go over your running history and evaluate everything from your relative level of fitness at the beginning of training to your history of running problems and leg injuries. When you figure out what your “running base” is, you’ll be able to know where you should start in the training process. If you are in excellent shape but have never ran a marathon before, it might take you as little as 3 to 4 months to train properly for a marathon. If you are in average shape, the process of marathon training doubles to around 6 months. And if you are in poor shape, you will need at least one to two years of solid training in order to run a marathon.
Eventually, you’ll need to be running 15 to 25 miles every week to have a proper running base to seriously consider training for a marathon. Only when you get to this level should you begin training for a marathon in earnest.
- Run Consistently – You need to run virtually every day when preparing for a marathon. While an occasional day missed won’t hurt, the idea of training for a marathon is to consistently build up your body’s ability to take the strains of a marathon. Consistently build up your running stamina by slowly drawing out your running sessions.
- Add the Long Run – From the beginning, when you’re running 3-4 miles per day, add one “long run” per week as you train. A long run should start out at around 6 miles one day per week, though this should build up to around 20 miles of running one day per week by the end of the training cycle. Your running time on other days of the week will increase as training goes, but you should only have one day a week that you strain your body with a long run throughout the training process.
- Taper Off Later in Your Training – About two to three weeks before the marathon, start to taper off on your training regimen. This allows your body to recover from the training process, getting stronger as you get closer to the day of the marathon. Place a day to three days between intense levels of exercise when the marathon gets near.
How To Train For a Marthon the Week of the Marathon
- Have Light Interval Training – As the week of the marathon approaches, focus on light bouts of “interval training” during that week. This keeps you fit while letting your body regenerate and gain strength for the marathon.
- Get Your Rest – During the week of the marathon, get lots of sleep. Sleep time is when your body rests and regenerates the most, so get the rest your body needs in training, and especially on marathon week.
- Eat Properly – On the week of the marathon, eat the kind of foods you need to store energy in preparation for the marathon. Eat a high-carbohydrate diet with low-fat content for 7 days prior to the marathon.
- Prepare For Marathon Day – Prepare a list of everything you need on marathon day. This includes power gels and sports drinks to keep your energy up during the marathon. Get your marathon attire ready for the run, too. This includes several clothing options, in case weather changes the day of the marathon.
- Check the Weather – Also, check the weather on the week of the marathon, making sure you are prepared for whatever road conditions you will face in the marathon.
- Prepare the Night Before – The night before the marathon, make a checklist of everything you need. Then lay out your marathon equipment and marathon clothes, then check each off the list. After doing this, pack all your running attire and running gear.
- Eat a High-Carb Meal the Night Before – The night before the marathon run, eat a high-carb meal, which will store energy for the big run. Also remember to get in bed early the night before the marathon.
- Wake Up Early – The day of the marathon, wake up at least two hours before the marathon begins. Eat a light breakfast that is high in carbohydrates. Drink plenty of water the morning of the marathon and make certain you go to the restroom just prior to the beginning of the marathon race.
As you can see, training for a marathon goes up to the minutes before the marathon begins. Marathons put your body under major stress, so you need to take every precaution and give your body every chance to come through the marathon without injury or undue stress.