Running a marathon is a daunting task, especially if you’re not already an experienced runner. However, with hard work, dedication, and patience, you can successfully run a marathon. Check out this guide on how to prepare for a marathon.
Know your limits
Even if you don’t have existing conditions, consult a doctor before you begin training to discuss possible physical limitations, risks, and healthy training methods. Once you’ve decided to train for a marathon, make sure to leave enough time to properly prepare. Be realistic—if you’re not a very active person or you have never gone running, getting your body ready for a marathon will likely take you a year or more. If you run regularly and have competed in shorter races, it may only take you a few months to prepare. Either way, leave enough time between the start of training and the marathon to set yourself up for success.
Plan and train
Start by going on runs three to five days a week. Short distances are fine for these—experienced runners can start with seven to 10 miles, while beginners may want to start out at three to five. Don’t overexert yourself; comfortable paces are best for long-term training and building stamina. Build up your mileage every week but be careful not to overwork your body—keep your week-to-week increases under 10 percent.
Every seven to 10 days, go for a long-distance run. This is to get your body used to running longer distances. You don’t need to run the full 26 miles on these; 10 should do it once you’re ready for it. Listen to your body before going on a full 10-mile run; if you’re a beginner, building up to this distance may take more time. Two to three weeks prior to your race, start to pull back on training and reduce your mileage to allow your body to rest a bit before the big day.
Make sure to always stay hydrated, especially on your runs. Drink water throughout the day and take a large water bottle with you on the run. This will minimize cramping and aid in recovery time. Eat healthily while you train, too. Provide your body with all the nutrients it needs to function at its healthiest. Don’t avoid carbs! Runners need carbs to keep them going on long-distance runs.
Most importantly, give your body time to rest. Training is important to overall success in marathon running, but without time to rest and heal, your body will be more susceptible to injuries.
Some injuries are preventable if you prepare for them. First and foremost, make sure to stretch before and after running. Stretching just enough to heat your muscles a bit without overextending them can help prevent muscle injuries. Stretching after your run can prevent extreme muscle soreness and increase your flexibility. For a little extra muscle support, get a pair of compression socks. These are known to help runners with muscle soreness, swelling problems, and much more.
Another thing to watch out for is chafing—it can really put a damper on training and on your big race. Plan in advance and find an anti-chafing method that works for you. Some people find skin lubricant helpful, and others simply use tight-fitting clothing. You’ll also want to get the right shoes. If your shoes aren’t built for running, they could give you blisters and even lead to injury. Caring for your feet is crucial to success in marathon running, so invest in a pair of running shoes that supports you.