If you have ever wanted to challenge yourself, running a marathon may be the way to go. This endurance event is a bucket list experience for many people, as it can push you to the ultimate limit. Most people who have completed a marathon will tell you that the event is as much a mental challenge as it is physical.
However, there are so many factors to consider when entering a marathon. If you have entered your first marathon and have no idea what to do next, you have come to the right place. Below, we will discuss some useful tips that you can follow to make your experience much easier and more enjoyable. In this article, you will find the following tips and advice.
- Finding Your Motivation
- Use a Training Plan
- Finding a Training Group
- Take It Slow
- Remember Nutrition and Hydration
- Purchase the Correct Equipment
- Recovery and Rest Is Equally Important
Finding Your Motivation
As we have already mentioned, running a marathon is an extremely difficult challenge. Most people can not complete a marathon without putting in some serious training. For this reason, it is vital that you find the proper motivation to keep you going when your body doesn’t want to anymore.
Unfortunately, everybody gets tired from time to time. Some days, you might start your training and feel as though you could run the marathon right then and there. Other days, it may seem as though you will collapse after just a few miles. This is when motivation becomes extremely important – if your mind is strong, your body’s pain won’t seem to matter quite as much.
When you feel like you simply cannot keep going, picture yourself crossing the finish line, and remember what it will mean to you. Some people train to lose weight, while others race in order to beat their previous time. Whatever your motivation may be, make sure that it is enough to keep you going for the months of training that are necessary.
Use a Training Plan
One of the best ways to avoid injury and overtraining is by following a professional training plan. You will be able to find plenty of plans by simply searching the internet. However, if you want something a little more personalized, you could even hire a running coach to match the plan to your schedule. This makes training much more realistic, as not everybody has hours to train every day.
When you have a coach, they will be able to take your work and family life into account and still make sure that you will be able to complete your training. A training plan can be used to make preparation a whole lot easier. When you know exactly what you have to do every single day, you will be able to plan your life and prepare yourself for what is ahead.
On top of this, your training will be designed specifically for your skillset, ensuring that you do not start off too hard and injure yourself. For example, if you have not run for years, the plan will start your training off very easy, simply adding a few short runs every couple of days. As you get fitter and stronger, the runs will slowly get longer and more intense, preparing you for the endurance event.
Finding a Training Group
One of the biggest issues that many runners face when training for a marathon is lack of motivation. When the novelty wears off and the pain begins kicking in, many people simply give up on the challenge. This is where a training group can make a big difference.
Being surrounded by other people who have the same interest and motivation as you can make the long hours of work much easier and more enjoyable. Imagine going for a 20-mile run all on your own…you would eventually begin dreading the long runs so much that you stop doing them altogether. However, if you have a group that you go out with every week, it will become a habit.
You could even start looking forward to the session as talking and getting to know your peers is a great way to make the time pass a little quicker. Plus, having a training group is a great way to make life-long friends, as you will start motivating and pushing each other to achieve great things.
Take It Slow
One of the biggest mistakes that marathon runners make is starting a little too hard. For example, they will begin their first week of training by running ten miles every single day. While they may feel great for the first few weeks, the sudden increase in training will eventually catch up to them and cause their bodies to become exhausted.
To make matters worse, they may even develop an injury, causing their marathon campaign to end before it ever truly began. If you are guilty of doing this, the first thing that you need to do is start off slow. Beginners should not run more than three times a week for the first month or so.
If you are not yet comfortable with running, you can even walk. As you begin feeling stronger, you can pick it up to four times a week. However, as a general rule, you should not increase your mileage by more than 10% at a time.
Remember Nutrition and Hydration
One thing that many amateur runners forget about is nutrition and hydration. This is especially true during the marathon, as they become so focused that they simply disregard food and liquids. However, this is one of the biggest mistakes that you can make as an endurance athlete. Keeping your body properly fueled is essential for peak performance.
When you are running, your body is constantly using up a lot of energy. For this reason, it is possible to think of nutrition as gas for a car. If you carry on going for a certain amount of time, you will eventually run out of fuel and your body will not be able to go anymore.
Also, if your energy levels drop too much, it can take hours to boost them again – during the race, you simply do not have this much time. Because of this, you will want to eat some sort of nutritious food every hour or so. Many athletes prefer to use gels, bananas, or protein bars. You should also take a sip of liquid every couple of miles to keep your body hydrated.
Purchase the Correct Equipment
Running equipment can be extremely expensive. However, if you wish to avoid injury, it is necessary for you to invest in a decent pair of running shoes. In fact, one of the most common causes of injury is impractical footwear. Some athletes go for long runs or do their speed sessions in shoes that are not appropriate for their feet, leaving them with pains that simply do not seem to go away.
It is vital that you purchase a pair of proper running shoes from a reliable supplier. Also, you should get your feet examined to determine whether or not you pronate while running. There are also various types of support shoes that are specifically designed for people who have high or low arches. There is other equipment that may be worth investing in as a marathon runner.
If you suffer from varicose veins or heavy legs, compression socks are necessary. It is also important that you have breathable and comfortable exercise attire, as runners often struggle with chafing. A watch is also worth the money, especially if you are going for a specific time. The watch should calculate distance, time, and pace so you will know exactly how far and fast you ran.
Recovery and Rest Is Equally Important
Many athletes think that the best way to train is by pushing your body to the absolute limit every single day. However, all this does is leave you exhausted, drained, and (eventually) demotivated. For this reason, it is very important that you take time off to let your body rest and recover.
Every time you complete a running session, you have broken down your body to some extent. The harder the session, the more your body has suffered. When you rest after the run, your body will recover from the session and get a little bit stronger every single time.
However, if you do not take the time to allow your body to recover, you will simply be breaking it down over and over again, without allowing it to get stronger. For this reason, it is recommended that you take a complete off day every now and again.
Training for a marathon is a very tough and draining experience. To make it much easier and more enjoyable, you should ensure that you find proper motivation.
Also, you will want to use a training plan and run with a training group. It is also recommended that you take your training slow, remember nutrition and hydration, invest in decent equipment, and take a few recovery days.