How To Train for a Marathon

Train for a marathon... the right way. (Picture courtesy of Standard Chartered Marathon 2011).

Train for a marathon… the right way. (Picture courtesy of Standard Chartered Marathon 2011).

Running over 42 kilometres is not an easy task and one cannot hope to do it without adequate training and developing the right mindset.

But regardless of whether you just plan to finish the marathon within the cut-off time, make a new personal best or to come in the top three, here are some important tips on how you can get through your marathon in one piece and without any injuries.

Build up your distance slowly

It is important that you do not overdo your training by trying to run too much before you are ready for it. You should build up the distance for your long runs slowly, and increase it by one or two kilometres every week, and no more than that.

Do note that if you do too much, you will just put yourself at risk of injury and may even injure yourself so badly that you won’t be able to take part in the race – your worst nightmare.

Give yourself enough recovery days

Do not run seven days a week even if you are a beginner because your body won’t be able to cope with it. Preferably you should run about four to five days a week. For the other three days, do not run. Allow your running muscles to have a break otherwise they won’t have enough time to heal themselves.

During your non-running days, you can either choose to have a complete break or you can do cross training, that is, other forms of exercise such as cycling or swimming.

Make sure you do long runs regularly

It is very important that you get used to doing long runs that preferably last between two to three hours if you are going to run a marathon. This is because during a marathon, you will be on your feet for at least four hours without a rest, so if you are doing such long runs, then the marathon will be much easier for you.

But try not to do more than three hours in a training run though, because you will only end up overtraining and possibly injuring yourself – and won’t be able to make it to the starting line of the marathon as a result.

Make sure you eat enough carbs

Your marathon training is very intense and difficult, and you will burn a lot more carbs compared to the ordinary person. So you must make sure that you fuel your body properly and increase your carb content, leading up to the marathon.

During your long workouts, you should also try to consume some energy gels or isotonic drinks to keep your body fuelled and prevent you from running out of energy. Moreover, it will also help to replenish your body with important fuels to help you recover from long training sessions.

Taper down as the marathon approaches

Two or three weeks before the marathon, it is vital to taper down and reduce the intensity of your training. This is because the tapering down and rest helps your muscles to recover and repair themselves from the previous intense training.

Do not be afraid of losing fitness during the past few weeks. Some runners may believe they will lose the fitness they fought so hard to get. But that isn’t going to happen and again, you will only end up tiring yourself, if you do too much in the weeks leading up to the marathon.

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