How to prep for a marathon

iStock_000074061715_Double

Choosing to do a marathon is a great way to challenge yourself. But it’s important to strive toward your goal the right way. Improper preparation not only hurts your chances of being able to finish the race, it can actually cause injuries before even toeing the starting line. Below are five things to keep in mind when training to run those 26.2 miles.

Get to a base level. Before beginning your marathon preparations in earnest, it’s key to establish how well you can run. After all, it might not be a wise decision to train for a marathon if other factors, particularly those that are health-related, will keep you from being able to run at all. You can assess your current abilities by attempting to work up to the point where you can run six miles comfortably. Take your time working to that point, as it will keep you healthy until you are ready to start training more seriously.

Choose your race. Coinciding with the first point, make sure to choose the marathon that’s right for you. Take into account the travel time, expense, and date of each race you consider registering for. The timing of it is particularly important; ask yourself, “Do I have enough time to train for this?” While you don’t have to sacrifice the other aspects of your life in order to make time to train, you should be ready to commit to anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks of training to be properly prepared so you can be at your peak performance come race day.

Train intelligently. People who decide to run a marathon don’t need to train seven days a week. In fact, this does not leave enough time for your body to rest and recover, so it can actually hurt you to train on a daily basis. Go with four days of running, one day of cross-training, and two days of rest. Many people find that they not only perform better with this routine, but that they don’t have to change their day-to-day schedule too much to fit it in.

Focus on longer runs. Because your race is a long run, you should regularly run for three to three-and-a-half hours at a time. Every run you take should not be this long, but it’s important to acclimate your body to the rigors of being in constant motion for that long.

Watch what you eat. Healthy carbohydrates and protein are key to your success because they give you energy and help your body repair its muscles after each workout. Research meal plans and diets that can optimize your energy and help you get in great shape in a healthy way.

With the proper training, you too can run a marathon. Keep these things in mind as you train, and you will put yourself in a great position to have a successful race!

Training Plan: Your First Marathon [Women’s Running]

What’s The Best Way to Train for a Marathon? [Runner’s World]

How to Train for a Marathon [REI]