5 Steps for Running a Marathon
You have decided to train for a marathon — congratulations! That in itself is already a true accomplishment. Your motivation to complete the marathon may be to get into shape, to raise money for a charity, or because you have a goal to complete a challenging race. Whatever your reason, you’re going to have to start somewhere to get your body ready for this huge feat. How does a beginner prepare for 26.2 miles of running?
Register for a race that fits you. The first thing you will need to do is find a race that is attainable. Research races on sites such as active.com. Races will typically give you a detailed run down of the conditions such as terrain, location and the typical weather you can expect. Schedule a race far enough in advance to make sure you have time to fully prepare. For beginners, it is highly suggested to give yourself a full year to properly train for a marathon.
Get the right shoes. Buying your first pair of running shoes can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many styles and brands to choose from. Be sure to ditch your old walking shoes and invest in a good, long distance pair. Find a local running store nearby and ask a sales associate for assistance. They should be able to explain options that work best for you. They will ask about your running, training and goals. Many of these stores will offer to size your feet and analyze your gait by observing how you walk or run on a treadmill. Take your time choosing the perfect style, fit and feel as it will pay off in the long run.
Join a running group. Joining a running group can give you motivation and encouragement while training for a marathon. Often times, a running group will already have a training program in place to help schedule how many miles should be run each day. If you’d like to train alone, there are many websites and books that provide detailed running plans to prepare you for your race. Many running groups usually meet up once a week for a long run or a midweek training run. Running in a group will help keep your pace, challenge you to run faster and give you a real feel for what it will be like to run in a marathon with other people around you.
Nutrition is key. Proper nutrition is crucial when training for a marathon. As mileage increases, so do your calorie needs. Carbohydrates, fat and protein are all sources to help you fuel for training. Without a high carbohydrate diet, your body will not use the energy effectively. Focus on carbohydrates that are whole grain as well as fruits and vegetables as they offer vitamins, minerals and fiber. Opt for healthy, unsaturated fats and omega-3 rich foods to help fuel you for longer runs. As for hydration, remember to drink a lot of water before, during and after your runs.
Recovery. Be sure to schedule rest days, typically once a week. Your body can adapt to your new workout regimen over time, but it also needs time to repair to reduce the chance of injury. Recovery allows your body to restore energy, relax your muscles and regenerate your immune system. Adequate recovery allows you to log more miles day after day and perform better. During recovery days, some runners will choose to schedule massage therapy, attend a light yoga session or simply use a foam roller to work out the tension in their muscles. Whatever you choose, keeping up with a recovery schedule is just as important as your training.
If you follow these tips, you’ll be on the road to your first 26.2.
Written by: Michelle Tran, Wellness Workdays Dietetic Intern. Learn more about the Wellness Workdays Dietetic Internship.