Training for and completing a marathon is one the most physically and mentally grueling challenges athletes can set for themselves. Not surprisingly, the attrition rate for aspiring marathon runners is very high.
But for those who persevere, it can also be one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences of their lives. And so it should be, considering the huge impact training for a marathon has on our lives, from the time and money we invest throughout the process, to changes in our diet and sleeping patterns.
Good preparation is key to making the most of your marathon mission, so we’ve put together eight training tips to help you make it to the finish line AND enjoy the process of getting there. So here we go.
- Keep a training log: Write down your daily distance, heart rate, run times and how you feel. It’s hard to remember what you did later so record it as soon as you finish.
- Plot your progress: Increase weekly mileage by about 10%. This allows for a gradual increase in distance and reduces the risk of suffering new injuries or aggravating existing conditions. But give yourself an “easy week” at least once every three or four weeks.
- Pace yourself: Run 3 or 4 days a week including one long run, two shorter runs optional easy recovery run and always alternate a hard run with an easy day or a day off. Always allow one or two days of rest per week to allow your body to repair and recover.
- Understand your limitations: Training for and completing a marathon tests every part of your body, not just your ankle, knees and hips. If you have any past injuries or pre-existing conditions you need to know how these may affect your preparation and how to modify your training regime to ensure they don’t put you out of the race.
- Listen to your heart: Learn how to monitor your resting heart rate. Take your resting pulse each morning before getting up and record it in your log. After several readings, you will have a baseline number and as your fitness improves, your resting pulse will decrease. If your resting heart rate spikes by 10% or more above your normal resting pulse, take that day off. This can be a sign of fatigue, lack of recovery between workouts, or an illness coming on.
- Diversify your preparation: Consider adding cross-training activities (45 minutes one or two days a week) to your training regimen. Sports that increase your aerobic conditioning without additional running – such as swimming, cycling, or rowing – are your best options. You can also add strength training activities to your routine once or twice a week, such as weight training or Yoga.
- Do a Dress Rehearsal: Four or five days before the marathon, run a few kilometres in your marathon outfit and shoes. This will provide one last little bit of mental and physical conditioning to ensure you snap into marathon mode on race day.
- Get the right advice: There are numerous pitfalls and uncertainties that can taint the whole experience of training for a marathon. Professional advice will help you understand what it actually takes to run a marathon, how past injuries can derail your preparation, how your body feels at higher mileage and how your mind will cope with that.
Gone are the days of ‘just running’ to get ready for a marathon. Make an appointment with Fairfield Physiotherapy to get the right advice and make sure you make it over the finish line with a smile on your face.