In 490 BC, a Greek messenger by the name of Pheidippides ran from the small town of Marathon to the capital, Athens, to report that the small Greek army staved off the mighty Persians. He covered a distance of 26.2 miles. This is where Marathon comes from.
Marathons are a dime a dozen now and it seems like everybody is running them. But don’t let their popularity fool you; marathons are hard and gruelling. They take discipline and training to accomplish. But it is not impossible.
Going from a casual runner to your first marathon finish is not going to be easy but here are a few tips to facilitate your success.
Training and Discipline
Training for a marathon means advancing your running ability and technique. The key to successful marathon training is a slow, gradual approach. This prevents injury even before you start the marathon.
It is essential to start your marathon training at least four months before the marathon itself. This will allow you to develop the habits needed to cross that finish line successfully. Start by running more often—at least 3-5 times a week. Go slowly and at your own pace. Pay attention to your running form, technique and posture.
Endurance is a critical factor in running and developing the muscles involved aid in the victory. This is where strength conditioning comes in. Incorporate at least two strength sessions in your week of running. Alternate them with a day of running for a more complete training.
Movement and mobility also play factors in training, especially in rehabilitation and recovery. Foam rollers and kinetic stretches are a great way of doing these. Incorporate at least 10 minutes of movement and mobility exercises to everyday activities like watching TV. Focus on injury-prone areas.
Be sure to take special care of your lower body. Massage and lubricate all your lower extremities and give them a little extra love. They will be working extra hard for the next few weeks.
It is easy for first-time marathon runners to think that they can eat anything before the big day. But proper exercise needs a proper diet to be effective. Limit the consumption of processed sugars and complex carbohydrates. Stick to fruits and vegetables for energy and dairy and lean protein for recovery.
Frequency and timing are also important. Carbohydrate consumption, while important, can leave you feeling bloated if eaten right before a run. Space your meals out 90 minutes before hitting the road.
Hydration is especially important. Water is your friend during training. It aids in muscle rehabilitation and detoxification. It boosts your immune system and energy. Consume at least 1 gallon of water per day.
Some things to consider
It is important to remember that this is in fact, a marathon and not a race. The few days before race start, go easy on the training to allow your muscles to recover. Straining your muscles just before the big day may lead to injury,and you don’t want all that effort to go to waste.
Take a lap around the race course if you can to better plan out your pacing. Some marathons allow you to register the day before. Use this day as a break from training and give your muscles some well-deserved rest. Most importantly, get adequate rest. Sleep is just as important as exercise in terms of physical activity. Tuck yourself in early the night before and get ready for a day of running.
Marathons may seem intimidating making the idea of finishing one all the more appealing. Remember that it does not matter where you placed as soon as you cross the finish line. The training and discipline you put in is more than enough reason to smile and feel good about accomplishing one of the most challenging runs there is.