Ace your marathon run

Here are some basics of marathon running that will apply to you—whether you’re a first timer or a veteran

For years many of us ‘think’ of running the marathon, but often end up only thinking. Primarily because marathon needs vigorous training, and we often don’t do that, for reasons ranging from—‘I don’t know what’s the perfect way to train;’ to ‘I don’t have time now, maybe next year.’

Speaking of the first reason, the justification is not all white and black. Ask any running expert out there, and you’ll definitely get different, sometimes conflicting, answers and approaches.  In fact, according to a study published in the International Journal of Sports Physiology and Performance, there is no such thing as a perfect way to train for a marathon.

But it’s not all bad. There are some overreaching principles and practices that every fitness enthusiast, from the newbie to the elite, can use and benefit from greatly. Here are a few:

Start now

Merely thinking about running a marathon will never get you there. Instead taking action and getting your feet dirty is the way to go. Nevertheless, proper marathon training is not built overnight; it requires time, practice and ample recovery to build enough cardio power to run the 26.2 miles without ending in a hospital. Otherwise, expect discomfort, injury and over-training, leading to more setbacks with your fitness resolve.

Most experts recommended opting for a 12-week program. This is the case even if you’ve been running consistently before. This program should be tailored to help your body get used to running for a long time. Furthermore, an ideal marathon training approach should also touch on speed work and core strength. The combination of endurance, speed and core power is the right formula for tackling those 26.2 miles.

Build slowly

When it comes to marathon training, staying healthy throughout the training is a must. It’s better to be slightly under-trained, than being burned out, or worse, injured. Therefore, if you’re a new-comer to the endurance sports, you need to build enough cardio base, and only then build distance and intensity gradually.

As a beginner, you want to do the bulk of your runs at conversational pace, and finish each work out with more energy in the tank for another mile. Most beginners opt for ‘the too much, too soon’ approach, which is the recipe for injury and burnout.

Sidestep injury

If you’re looking to keep your marathon training for the long haul, then you need to incorporate injury-free practices into your programme. The high impact nature of running can lead to a myriad of injuries and health troubles, however, learning how to side-step those pitfalls can save you lots of trouble and pain.

Do the following to stay injury-free

  • Choose the right shoes: Running in improper shoes increases the risk of discomfort and injury. Nonetheless, the proper shoes—not too tight, not too loose—boosts your performance and training enjoyment.
  • Develop proper form: Proper running mechanics can make or break you. So, aim to instill good form into your work outs. Make sure to land on the fore-foot while running, with a slight lean forward. In addition, keep your body relaxed at all times.
  • Proper surface: You don’t always get to choose where you run, in fact for most of the time, concrete and asphalt are pretty much the only options. Unfortunately, these surfaces add to running’s high impact, increasing the risk of injury and burnout. Therefore, aim to add more grass and gravel to the equation. Trail courses are also a good choice.
  • Correct technique: Start all your training sessions with adequate warm-up [10 minutes of light jogging], and proper cool-down [slow jogging for five minutes followed by light stretching].

Run long

To run longer, you just need to run longer. This is a no-brainer. If you’re a newbie, long runs are vital. Simply put, you’ll have to become acquainted to being on your feet—without succumbing to discomfort or boredom—for two, three or more hours. The more time you spend on your feet, the better you’ll be to stomach marathon running loads.

Long runs mileage isn’t built overnight either. Aim to increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10 per cent every week, around two to three miles for three to four weeks; but then cut back on mileage so you can recover before building it again. Keep this pattern until you’re able to run non-stop for two and a half to three hours. Still, you could stretch that out farther, but make sure to take ample walk breaks for recovery.  Nonetheless, this is not written in stone. You need to find out what works the best for you.

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David Dack
David Dack is a runner and an established author on weight loss, motivation and fitness. His mission is to help people discover or rediscover happiness in their physical and mental performance while enjoying growth and better health and achieving their life objectives. For a limited time you can download his eBook Weight Loss By Running for free from his website runnersblueprint.com.

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