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How to train for the marathon
Do you want to build your fitness to the point where you are able to finish a marathon or a half-marathon? It is an amazing goal to have, and what an accomplishment it would be! But, be aware, it may take more than a year to get yourself ready. Before you do any training, you should book a health check with your doctor to make sure everything is ok. If so, here are some practical tips that will get you started with your training.
Keep track of your daily distance covered, times, heart rate, and the way you feel. It can be difficult to recall what happened as the weeks pass, so note down everything important. This will help you gain a sense of accomplishment.
No more than 10%
Feeling strong and want more? Well, you don’t necessarily have to break your own records every day. Increase your weekly distance by no more than 10%. This reduces the risk of injury.
Three to four runs per week
What should you do exactly, how is it best to start running? The basic weekly schedule for every beginner runner should include one long run and two short runs. An easy recovery day is a good extra option too. If you want to increase your speed, focus on your pace one day a week by running faster for short distances. For strength, run up on steep streets or hills. Long runs at a comfortable, slow pace are useful for increasing your distance.
You should measure your pulse each morning before getting up or you should buy a smart watch that is able to monitor it for you. Note, that as your fitness improves, your resting pulse decreases. If you see your pulse rising by 10% or more, take that day off or change your workout to an easy one.
It’s not all about running, so you don’t have to be a marathonist at all times. Performing other sports will have a positive effect on your condition. The best options are swimming, cycling or rowing. Cross-train one or two times a week.
You don’t have to become a bodybuilder, but lifting some weights from time to time won’t hurt. TRX, Pilates or Yoga are also good options. If you don’t want to work out at a gym, you can do all sorts of exercises at home.
Listen to your body
Do you feel tired or exhausted? Do you feel your muscles cramping? Don’t burn out;: rest. If a workout feels tough, it is tough. No matter the training plan, your true personal trainer is your body, so listen to what it’s saying and keep yourself fit.
Keep in mind, different parts of your body adapt differently to increased physical exercise so the best is to take things slowly. Your system needs a minimum of six weeks to get used to the stress which comes with preparing for a marathon. There are also non-physical things like getting the proper shoes or hydration and nutrition you need to keep in mind.
How to train for the marathon
Marathon running is much more than running until you can't run any more. There are a lot of things to do and to consider if you want to improve your running from beginner to a more serious, advanced level. Here are a couple of tips that can help you make progress.
Take it soft
If possible, avoid running on pavement. This way running will have less impact on your knees and feet. Run on grass, dirt, or special surfaces designed for running.
You must adapt your body to marathons throughout the whole training period by drinking appropriate amounts of water needed for long-distance running. Make and follow a hydration plan for the full marathon distance, even if you plan to run a shorter route.
For the first 8 to 12 kilometres, slow down to about 10 to 15 seconds below your ordinary pace. An additional 10 seconds each minute doesn't sound like much, but it's enough to give you some extra energy.
Even the most professional athletes need to rest. The human body wasn’t designed to run a marathon every second day, so it has to rest in order to regain its full capacity and to give muscles time to adapt.
Research the locations of the runs you plan on participating in. Determine if you need elevation training and identify the most important strategic points along the course. If hill preparation is needed, you should include both uphill and downhill running in your training plan.
The meals you eat before races should include enough nutritional power to give you energy throughout the whole run. You should test these meals before the day of the race. Interval workouts and long runs are also useful for finding out about any gastrointestinal issues.
Marathonists need particular mental skills. Be S.M.A.R.T.!
SPECIFIC Be exact about your goals: always maintain a specific time or pace while running.
MEASURABLE Have measurable goals which you can accomplish. For example, decide what distance you want to cover.
AGGRESSIVE BUT ATTAINABLE Your goals should be aggressive but attainable. A coach or training partner is great to share your training experiences with.
RESULTS Write your results down. You should be able to review what you've already accomplished. This can give you an extra boost when needed.
TIMING To reach your marathon goals, the number of events per year in which you participate must be strategically planned. So always choose carefully, which races are worth the most to you.
But the most important thing is to listen to your body. You don’t have to feel guilty if you feel like passing a day’s training. Shorter, “lazy” periods are useful for your mind and body as well.
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