Top Tips When For First-Time Marathon Training
Making the decision to run a marathon for the first time is impressive – there are not many people who are willing to take on the challenge of months of grueling training, followed by a race of 26.2 miles.
If you’ve decided to take this step and go for the goal of running your first race, we congratulate you, and offer some top tips to help you along the way.
- Have a goal. When you make the decision to start training for your first marathon, having a goal to motivate you can help strengthen your commitment. Raising money for charity, drawing attention to a good cause, or running in memory of a loved one are all popular reasons that people use to keep them on track.
- Tell everybody. The more people who know about your decision to run your first marathon, the better. Tell friends, family, colleagues and neighbors about your plan, and you’ll soon find that people are cheering you on during your morning run, or asking you how your training is going.
- Find a partner. Working out with a training partner can be fun and help you to stay committed to your goal.
- Learn, learn and learn. Learn as much as you can about marathon training. There a huge variety of training techniques and methods, so take time to find the one which best suits your needs and lifestyle, while still building up your fitness to a level which will enable you to get through the race.
- Build strength and stamina over time. If you are a beginner at running, don’t expect yourself to be able to get through a marathon without a strict training schedule. Giving yourself enough time to build strength and stamina is key, and this make take at least six months of committed training.
- Think of the finish line. Seasoned runners suggest that first-time marathon runners forget about trying to get a good time on the race day – your focus should be on getting to the finish line, not competing with other runners.
- Work in rest days. While marathon training is very intense, it is absolutely essential work rest/recovery days into your schedule. Over-working your body can cause short term discomfort and longer term problems, so allow yourself two or three non-running days each week. If you still want to keep moving, introduce lower impact workouts which exercise different muscle groups to running, such as cycling or swimming.
- Be aware of plateaus. If you time yourself on training runs, don’t be surprised if you see your performance start to even out, rather than improving each time. This is called “reaching a plateau” – don’t let it break your morale, keep up your workouts but add in some variations to mix it up a little, such as cross-training or core work.
- Buy the right gear. Buy shoes and socks which are designed specifically for running – but don’t make the mistake of saving those shiny new trainers until race-day. Make sure that your footwear is well broken in, and avoid the blisters which plague many first-time marathon runners. Oh, and don't forget your running sweatband!
- Use visualization as a preparation strategy. Think positive and create a clear mental image of what you would like to achieve. You can use this tip all through training – on those days when you feel like your legs won’t make it through the next mile, or that you’ve just had enough, use your imagination to spark your energy again.
- Make healthy lifestyle choices. In the months leading up to the marathon to get yourself in optimum physical condition. Eating a balanced, nutritious diet which provides enough energy and carbohydrates, drinking enough liquids and getting quality sleep will make a big difference to how you feel. Some runners also like to eliminate alcohol in the lead-up to the race as they feel that it improves their performance.