Running a marathon is no easy feat. Even for experienced athletes, running a marathon requires a lot of preparation and training. From the amateur athlete to the seasoned, proper training is necessary as it can minimize your chances of injury and help prepare you for a long-distance run. While tactics for runners and trainers alike can vary, there are a few pointers you can follow when it comes to training for a marathon.
Having Experience and Time
In general, the safest rule is to start training 3-6 months in advance. In addition to planning time to train, you’ll want a bit of experience with long-distance running. Being able to run three times a week consistently is a great indicator you are ready to take on an intense training schedule. Not to that level yet? Sign up and train for a 5K or 10K to start as it’s a great way to build your endurance.
Alternate Your Training
Running at least three times a week with alternating difficulty is recommended. Runners training for a long-distance run such as a marathon shouldn’t train with the same mileage or intensity over time. Your weekly training should differ day-to-day with the introduction of fast, slow, long, and short runs. Rest days in between are also important to include, so if you are committed to your training schedule, you shouldn’t get bored.
Increase Your Mileage
To build your endurance, it’s recommended in the first 10 weeks to increase your distance by 10-20% per week. Note that the weekly increase needs to be gradual as increasing distance too quickly is a common mistake and can cause injury. An easy way to help build your mileage is to run a few shorter races. Running 5Ks and 10Ks during your training can teach your body what to expect on race day and get your muscles and mind ready.
Take it Easy Before Your Race
For optimal results in training, you should start to decrease the distance in the end. In the last 3 weeks, start to decrease your training by 25% to 50% per week. For example, if your training is set at 16 weeks, your longest run would be at 13 weeks. This will give your body and muscles time to rest and recover before taking on your longest run. Make your last week of training the lightest and do not run the day before the race. Your muscles will be primed and prepped but relaxed and ready for action on race day.
Marathon running is not easy for anyone. It takes a lot of planning, prep, and hard work when it comes to commitment and training. While training methods can differ from athlete to athlete, it’s best to ensure you give yourself enough time to train, keep your runs dynamic, and build then decrease mileage before the race. Obviously check with your doctor before taking on the commitment, but find the fun, diverse training program that works for you to get you across that finish line.