to Train for a Marathon
the road to a successful marathon
by Gemma Carter
of whether you complete the 26.2 miles as a beginner or you
are a professional to the sport, marathons take immense determination
and effort, in training as well as on the race day. This article looks
over the important stages in training for a marathon primarily for
beginners but also anyone looking to complete a marathon successfully.
1) Baby steps -
Getting into the habit
One of the most
important parts to training is making running a regular
habit. Find a time each day to exercise, whether it's before work,
during your lunch hour or after your working day is done. Making a pact
with a fellow running partner can help keep you on target and sustained
through your training.
Having a regular
running routine should be the basics of your training
and something which you should follow for at least 3 months before you
start the specifics of a marathon training program. This gives your
body time to
adjust physically to the demands placed on it and psychologically to
your new routine.
2) Structure your
Unless you are a
regular marathon runner, you will need to educate
yourself on how to structure your running for a marathon. Start off by
getting used to making one of your weekly runs (usually
the weekend run as you have more time) to last for at least an hour. By
your first month of training you should have built up your weekly
2 hours and over the next coming month aim to increase this slowly (no
more than a 10 percent increase per week to prevent injury).
A good way to
structure your overall training year is to divide your
training into quarters (3 months each) and aim for a goal at the end of
each quarter. This way the target isn't so far in the distance, and by
involving short term and medium term goals into your training it keeps
you motivated and enthusiastic.
3) Listening to your
After a few good
solid months in training you should feel noticeably
stronger in your legs and core strength. You will be more toned and
find that your cardiovascular endurance is increasing- brilliant!
However, this is a
great time to keep an eye out for any warning signs your body is giving
you of possible future injuries. This could be anything from a knee
won't go away, back pain or an aching toe. Although you may think it's
nothing big- it could turn worse as your training mileage increases and
out of training for months.
regularly, especially areas prone to tightness, drink
plenty of fluids and keep your vitamin and mineral intake up. Exercise
depletes the body of its natural nutrients so it is important for
recovery to replenish these and give your body sufficient time to
4) Running your first
Although the word
'race' or 'competition' can fill new runners and
beginners with fear and dread preaching 'but I'm not ready!' it is an
important step in progressing to your marathon goal. The best place to
start is by entering a local 5km race, where you are
familiar with the area and the distance is not too long. Here you can
focus on such components as controlling you emotions, running in a
group and learning from any race day mishaps that could wreck your
marathon on the day.
Think of it as a
great way to meet, socialize and learn from other
experienced runners. You can analyze their runner styles, adopt tips
and strategies as well as just getting used to the feeling of
5) The marathon build
By now you should
have been training for at least a good 6 months, the
longer runs are getting longer, you are feeling more confident in your
own ability and competitively. Here is the stage where you should be
considering completing a half marathon, 12 miles in the right direction
towards your marathon goal.
Even the most
experienced runners find this is the toughest stage of
training as you increase the intensity of your mileage and take on more
demanding schedules. The half marathon race is a great way to test your
long distance race
capabilities and your mental endurance. This is a great way to see
whether your mind as well as your body are prepared for the marathon.
If you find this race difficult it's a good time to reassess your
training, how much more you need to invest and any strategies you might
need to adopt to make your
marathon more manageable.
modifying training throughout this stage is also
fruitful. Correct any nagging problems and keep an eye out once again
for areas prone to injury.
sometimes when you are in the middle of a heavy training load
you may start to loose focus on why you are running, and what is
motivating you. Here is a great time to re-evaluate what your goals,
drives and reasons
for running are. Keep it in mind and remind yourself of this whenever
it gets tough.
6) Nearly there
The marathon is
approaching, it's a month away, and you've successfully
completed your half marathon and have been upping your mileage. Now
here comes the last test before the marathon itself.
training run. This run should occur about a month before
the marathon itself in order to give you plenty of recovery time. Aim
for about 3 hours (which depending on your speed should be about 18-22
schedule it for the weekend. Get up early, eat a good breakfast and set
off on your mapped out long run. This is the real tester- can I stand
distance? Focus, relax and keep reminding yourself of your motivations.
Over the last
weeks you should focus your training on building up your
endurance, possibly incorporating strength training into your routine.
7) Ready to race
Finally, all your
hard work is done, you completed your long runs, and
you are injury free and strong. Here it comes.
In the last 2
weeks before the race you should have tapered your
training, reduce the running load and given your body time to charge up
and be ready for race day. Most athletes agree 2 weeks is the optimum
time to taper before
the marathon, giving your body enough time to recover but not losing
valuable training time.
By now you should
be completely focused on the race day itself. If you
haven't already it's a great idea to prepare your race plan- how will
you tackle the race? Think carefully. It's also a good time now to
assess your race day preparations:
early do I need to get up to leave?
will I get there?
will be there to support me?
will I get home?
do I need to pack?
food should I bring?
- Will I
need a change of clothes?
you are worried about pacing yourself, keep with the 'marked
pacemaker' (this is someone who runs a certain pace e.g. 8 minute miles
ensuring you the correct pace throughout the race)
Once all your
preparations are done you are nearly ready to race. All
you need to do now is go out there are show people how all that hard
work has paid off!
Good luck my
Carter is a fully trained fitness and life coach.
website at http://www.cartercoaching.co.uk