If you’re reading this, you’ve already thought about training for a marathon, but are confused about where to start. Getting the motivation to put your running shoes on is one thing, but understanding the right training schedule and diet is a completely different ball game. Fret not, we’re here to help you with some quick beginner’s tips on how to train for your first marathon. You’re sure of this? Let’s do this.
Step 1: (1 year to go):
Yes, that’s how early you begin. Now, the nitty-gritties of marathon running are a subject to much debate among many fitness experts, and consensus breaks down with increased granularity in this field, but the one thing most people agree on is that you can’t, in fact, roll out of an alcohol-and-chicken-wing-fueled slumber and decide to run a marathon tomorrow. Disappointing, we know.
Step 2: Gauge yourself – Start running, and time yourself. Keep track of how long you can run. Ideally, to think about doing marathons, you should be able to run for 30 mins without stopping. Follow an alternating regimen, of short distance and long distance. Schedule running one long run a week and make sure you actually do it. When you start training, your long run should be about 10 to 11 miles. That’s how you gradually get your body used to running long distances without getting tired.
Step 3: Cross training: Once in a while, your body needs a little diversity in training, so take off your running shoes and put on your gym shoes (unless you’re not rich and you don’t have a pair of shoes just for the gym) in which case, put on any kind of shoes. Point is, try different things like weights, pilates and yoga, to keep your muscles working.
Step 4: Make a meal plan: Keep track of your diet. While you’re training, 60 to 65% of your diet should come from mainly complex carbohydrates. Think of leaves, and starchy foods, like potatoes, beans, yams, wheat bread, pasta and apples. What? Did you want to get a KFC bucket?
Step 5: (1 month to go): Keep your goals achievable.And keep track of the progress you’re making. Make a list of the marathons you want to participate in. Keep in mind that if you aren’t ready, which means that if you haven’t yet run a full 26.5 mile marathon in practice, you don’t have to go for it. There are always half marathons, or a 5k or a 7k.
For best advice, consult a dietician because everyone’s needs are different. Figure out what’s right for you. And stick to it like a leech.
Step 6: (Marathon week):
For novice marathon runners, simply finishing the event is a huge accomplishment. Newbie marathoners should focus more on finishing the race and having a good experience rather than trying to run too hard. Mental preparation is key. Don’t aim to win. Know that there’s probably someone who’s been training since they were 8 for this. Don’t aim too high. That’s what our moms told us. That’s why we write blogs for a living.
Step 7: Do you have the right equipment? While you’re at a sports store, pick up a pair of double layered socks. Double layered socks will prevent your heels and toes from getting blistered during the marathon. Normal socks don’t offer enough protection and can leave your feet blistered and in pain. This will probably be a good time to invest in some good quality running shoes. Make sure you have the support and the cushion you need to last you the full length of it. When choosing a shoe, runners should find a pair that is comfortable, light and flexible. Go to a local running or sporting goods store and try on several different pairs. Also try putting on a light layer of vaseline before you put on socks.
Nearly all marathons include water and aid stations along the way. If you plan to carry some of your own water on race day, buy a hydration belt long in advance and get accustomed to running with it. Never try something new on race day.
Step 8: The day before: On this day, just prepare yourself mentally for the ordeal. Hydrate, get a lot of sleep, know that it will be hard. And that you can totally do it, if you want to do it. It’s also okay to quit. The important thing is to have a lot of fun. This is a long haul and you’re going to get there slowly. This is just your first marathon so relax. Breathe. It’s important to consume your food at the right time on race day so that you allow your body enough time to digest.
Register for your first marathon!