Making the decision to run a marathon is perhaps the easiest part of the whole journey, but it’s only just the beginning. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a first timer, there are always going to be hard times where you have to dig deep during the race or during your training to succeed. Some people will just be happy to survive and get through the 26.2 mile course; others will be looking to improve on their previous best time. Regardless of your level of experience, read on to see my top five tips to marathon training.
1 | Shoes
Finding a pair of running shoes that works for you is very important and it’s something that you should look to get sorted right from the start of your marathon training schedule. There are five main types of shoes: stability, cushion, motion control, neutral, and racing flats. Take a trip to your local running store and ask their advice, they me be able to measure the biomechanics of your feet and give advice on which shoe is best suited to your running style. Many runners wear running shoes that are a size or two bigger so as to allow for their feet to swell in the heat. I find that a half size bigger is perfect and allows enough room for my feet without the need for an extra pair of socks. It’s also important to wear the shoes in during runs to help prevent blisters on race day.
2 | Fuel Is King
Developing a fuel plan for the race is another good step to take to ensure you are giving your body what it need during the race. Experiment with different types of energy bar and gel and stick to the one that you find most agreeable. Many running shorts will have a small internal pocket where you can stuff 2 or 3 energy gels; alternatively you can buy a special belt that will do the job. Integrate your refueling needs during training sessions and then stick to the plan during race day. Finally, make sure that everything you take is securely attached to your body; you don’t want it all falling off in the first few steps.
3 | Hydration Happiness
In a similar line to fuel, hydration is a critical part of your race and training. Familiarize yourself with where the energy drink stations are on the course and if you know what energy drink will be given out during the marathon then it’s a good idea to try some during a training session so as you know what to expect. While it’s important not to dehydrate, taking water from every station is not a good idea. Water intoxication is a very real danger for marathon runners and consuming too much water and can cause a fatal disturbance in brain function.
4 | Rest For The Wicked
Throughout your training schedule it’s important to let your body get the rest it needs, especially after long runs. While one late night out isn’t going to do you too much harm, a consistent lack of rest can hamper your training sessions. Including a taper period at the end of your training schedule is also vital. A taper is where you start to ease back on your training and decrease the mileage a week or two before race day so as to allow your body to recover. During this time you won’t make any improvements in your form by overdoing it, so take it easy and give your body the rest it deserves.
5 | Go Long
It’s important to go for a long run once a week. This will help your body to acclimatize to the prolonged effort required for a marathon. Make sure you don’t do more than one long run a week, running too many long runs in a week will put excess stress on your body and will lead to injury. If you are looking to do more exercise then try mixing up your training with swimming sessions at your local swimming pool or your garden swimming pool, or spin classes at your local gym.