Fitness: Tips For Running Your First Marathon

TAKING ON THE 42K – If you imagine running a marathon is easy, then think again. And we have just what you need to get started

Running continues to be a popular—if not the most popular—sport of choice these days. The easy availability of cool running gear and the prevalence of posting running shots or statistic on social media has also made it a trendy activity. But it’s not all fun and games, as evident by the growing interest in marathons. As it covers a distance of 42.195km, give or take, running a marathon—or even a half marathon—can be quite a daunting task.

Even seasoned runners need to plan carefully and train both mind and body to tackle this classic challenge. Still, by building up one’s running time, little by little, bit by bit, it is quite doable. And if you can manage to actually be physically prepared for the race, you will be able to actually enjoy and savor it as well.

So, if you feel that you might want to add “running a marathon” in your agenda, here are some things that you might want to know about preparing for one.

KEY PREPARATION

In the world of marathons, training is critical for success. Let’s say you’re a new runner and you’re basically starting from scratch. You should allocate at least four to five months of training to prepare for a complete marathon. First of all, your training should concentrate on building a base of essential running skills. Then you increase your mileage little by little. This means that you will give your body a sufficiently long timeframe to build new muscle, strengthen your blood supply and shape your endurance.

This is not a 100-meter race, so resist the temptation to start as fast as you can. You will need endurance most of the time, not speed. To be able to run for hours on end at a steady pace, you will need mental fortitude and stamina. It might sound so obvious, but it’s worth pointing out that you will need to hold back. Moreover, you also have to remember that running is not the only form of exercise you should be doing to prepare for your marathon. Cross training in other forms of exercise should be part of the menu along with things like familiarizing yourself with the routes of any race you might want to participate in.

 

TRAINING SCHEDULE

One of the most important things about preparing for a marathon is to set a training schedule—and to stick to it. Full of commitment is a must. A good training regimen—as often suggested by fitness experts—would cover sixteen to twenty weeks, give or take.

 

TRIAL & ERROR

Before tackling a full marathon, a lot of runners would run a half marathon as part of their training. Again, this is one of those “sounds obvious” points, but it bears repeating because it can make quite a difference when you finally face the full version. For one, half-marathons can help you get a feel for long-distance racing. It’s also a good idea to do half marathons while wearing the same amount of gear you think you will wear on a full marathon, as you will definitely feel the effects of your gear composition the longer you run. And this brings us to our next point.

 

APPAREL WISE

It’s easy to feel that apparel is the least thing we should be concerned about when preparing for a marathon. But, as many veteran runners can tell you, it’s not. Again, your choice of gear can really affect your performance on the road. Shoes are, of course, important. As we’re talking about 42-plus kilometers, comfort is a must. It’s even better if you wear shoes that you have experience running in. That means don’t buy a set of shoes for training and another pair for D-Day.

As for clothes, you really don’t want to just throw on any old T-shirt and short combo. During a marathon, you need clothes in breathable fabrics that also won’t irritate your skin when you start to sweat like a waterfall. Chafing and sore skin can be quite a distraction during a long run, not to mention painful.

 

FINAL TIPS

Marathons represent the ultimate running challenge and many treat it that way by undergoing a training-from-hell regimen to prepare. But, when you’re feeling tired or burnt out, it’s okay to skip a few days for some rest or switch up your schedule by moving to less rigorous exercises. Like the marathon itself, you have to think long-term, and do whatever it takes to stay healthy.

And now comes the most important part: After the training phase where you build up stamina, you move to the tapering phase. Again, this part is critical. For the last couple of weeks of your training, it’s important for you to taper— that is, cut back on your mileage. See, your body and mind needs to rest and recover as a final step to prepare for a marathon. If you can properly conserve your energy prior to the big day, you’ll be cruising while others are struggling.

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