Running small distances does not seem to make more sense. Five kilometers? Ten kilometers? Half marathon? No, you want to go further! Your body is thirsty for more miles. It’s time to face the most traditional and respected race!
Before giving you training and body preparation tips ahead of what could be the longest race of your life, let’s take a look at the challenges you are likely to face.
Risks involved in running a marathon
- Dehydration due to excessive perspiration.
- Muscle spasms due to the low level of sodium.
- Cramps, twitches or even paralysis (in rare cases) due to lack of potassium.
- Injuries to the ankles or legs such as sprains or tendinitis.
- Nausea or vomiting due to intense exertion.
Now that you know what you’re facing, consistent training and preparation are key to getting your body toned up for the task ahead. And this can help your body adapt to the challenges on the D-day.
30 preparation and training tips for a marathon
Here are some vital do’s and don’ts you must adhere to, in the race to getting ready for that 42km race.
1. Train in advance
Of course, the first step to a good marathon race is the preliminary preparations. In fact, training for a marathon takes between 12 to 20 weeks on average. Running at least four months in advance will help you in various aspects of the preparation, such as training, planning, and logistics for the trip (if it is a game away from your city).
Before you leave for the long-awaited 42km race, visit a doctor and have a thorough medical check-up. One of the main tests is the ergospirometry test, which is ideal for the athlete to find the balance range of the body for distance. This equilibrium is determined by the anaerobic threshold, at which point the oxygen uptake and the elimination of carbon dioxide are shaken. In a distance like a marathon, this may be the difference between breaking or not. The hemoglobin level tests, cardiac and kidney health tests, diabetes tests, calcium and vitamin D tests and blood pressure tests are also essential.
3. Find a mentor
An exhausting and strategic race like the marathon requires the help of a professional. If you have a race in the coming weeks or months, the time to seek guidance from a coach is now!
4. Physical evaluation
Besides the medical guarantee, knowing the current situation of your body can contribute to a good race. Tests such as anthropometry, flexibility, postural and body composition help assess the level of physical fitness. With this, the coach can adjust the intensities and training volumes and make evaluations.
5. Start small
To reach a high position in a large company, one must first go through other smaller areas to gain experience, right? For the marathon, it’s also the same. Before leaving for the 42 km, make sure you passed the “lower stages” such as the 10 km, 15 km, and 21 km during training periods.
6. Adjust your routine
Many athletes, even amateurs, have a routine that revolves around training. Perhaps this extreme is not necessary. But be aware that your daily life will be influenced by training, diet and rest. For example, giving up that party on the weekend for the Sunday workout will yield a better result.
7. Rest, rest and rest
Training after a bad night is not a good experience. Always respect your body and give it the rest it needs to recover from the tiresome routine.
Sometimes, your workouts will be tiring not only physically, but mentally. In some moments of preparation, having a friend with you can be a good option.
9. Balanced menu
The body is like a car and needs fuel to run. If poorly supplied with nutrients, it will not respond adequately to training. Eating balanced amounts of carbohydrates, proteins and fats is therefore essential. For your menu to meet all your needs, you may need to consult a sports nutritionist.
10. Eliminate the fats
You do not need to be dry like a Kenyan, but eliminating overweight is important to comfortably face the marathon. Imagine your knees, tendons, and joints having to carry an excessive weight for 42 km. It does not sound like a good idea, right?
11. Energy gels are great
Carbohydrate is one of the main sources of rapid energy for the body. During longer workouts and also throughout the marathon, as the levels of your nutrient tend to go down because of the burning of energy, you will need to replenish your supplies. Cheap and practical, the famous gels are a good option – but be sure to consult your nutritionist.
12. Have your head in the race
Many athletes are incisive in saying: the hardest side of the marathon is not physical but psychological. And it is during the longer workouts that you have to “accustom” your mind to running for hours. Because of this, you have to cut the dependence on some utensils and manias, such as music, or a company of friends. Even, you should always wear the same pair of sneakers. The more elements you depend on to get a better result, the worse it is. In the difficult moments of the race, if any of them is absent, you can suffer. Do not accumulate many requirements for good performance!
13. Chose a pair of reliable sneakers
Your sneakers will be your best friend in a marathon. If your footwear is not well chosen in advance and tested in longer workouts, you run the risk of encountering some unpleasant surprises during the race, such as nuisances and blisters. Therefore, debuting a pair of new sneakers during your training is better than launching them on the D-day.
14. Maintain muscle mass
The training sessions will even give a force in the question of muscular endurance. However, a test like a marathon demands more. Body-building at least three times a week is essential to gain more physical strength and avoid injury during the race.
You obviously do not need to turn into a triathlete. But experiencing other activities such as swimming and cycling throughout your preparation can help. When introduced in intervals between the training sessions, these modalities gradually increase the cardiovascular capacity of the athlete, balancing the overload imposed by the race (impact and internal forces).
16. There’s time for everything
The training courses between 25 km and 30 km should only be performed in the final stage of preparation. Before that, the focus should be on gradual evolution.
17. Respect the symptoms of fatigue
The triad of good preparation for a long test is composed of training, diet and rest! Respect your body and do not overdo it in training and other activities that require too much from the body.
Learn to balance your day with moments of leisure and do not let your professional and personal life be completely shaken by the workouts.
19. Vary the terrain
This is not a rule, but if you are an experienced runner in the smallest distances and/or rely on the assistance of a professional, taking an asphalt escape can help. Grass and slammed sand, for example, do not offer great impact and accommodate lighter training – but beware of the imperfections of the terrain. While the soft sand can provide a good work of strength for the lower limbs, you should apply moderation.
20. Did you drink water?
Hydration should not be done only during the race. Always have a bottle of water in your hands to hydrate before, during and after training.
21. Carbs for what you want
Some nutritionists advocate overcompensating carbohydrates before a marathon, which is nothing more than restricting the intake of this nutrient and then greatly increasing its intake just before the race. Others say that only a balanced diet is enough. Anyway, do not neglect your consumption the day before the race, keeping your offer high. At dinner, pasta, potatoes, and rice, plus some lean meat, are good choices.
22. Do not try anything new on race day
New things for what exactly? The rule is simple: if you did not use it during training (and this is true for clothes, sneakers, and food), do not use it on the day of the race. And that’s it!
Set aside one day of the week before the race to plan your strategy. Running the first half of the course below your training pace? How many miles to take your gel? These are important aspects of a good race and should be predicted with the help of your trainer.
24. Time to study
In addition to planning the race, take some time to get to know your race better. Find out where the main climbs are, the hardest stretches, how many runners will be involved and, of course, the start time. After all, planning for a challenge like this is never too much.
The night before, separate everything you will wear in the race: the test shirt, favorite shorts, visor, timing chip, chest number and, of course, sneakers. In doing so, you run a smaller risk of forgetting something important when you’re about to start.
26. Prepare against rashes
Use liquid petroleum jelly in areas of increased friction (armpits, nipples, groin, thighs, and toes). This helps prevent dreaded and uncomfortable rashes.
27. Warm the body up
Warming up before the test is like warning the body: “Hey, get ready to run!” That light minute jogging before the start increases blood circulation to the muscles of the lower limbs and the heart as well as the respiratory frequencies. This makes you start the race prepared and with less risk of injury.
28. Goal in sight
Defining your goal in advance is essential for good preparation and a more conscious race. Before starting your race, evaluate, based on your previous training and with the coach’s help, the time when you will be able to complete the distance.
29. Hold the excitement
Don’t be carried away by the crowd. Control your pace and always keep the pace planned. Otherwise, the chance to “break” while in the front increases.
30. Accelerate towards the end
Many often say that it is at the mark of the 30 km in a marathon that the body feels the accumulated fatigue and appears to be striking a wall. But avoiding this is simple: try to do the first half of the race more safely and comfortably and only accelerate when you feel confident that you’re already close to the final kilometers.
You ran 42 km, congratulations! It’s time to celebrate, right? More or less, leave the celebration till the next day. Use the post-race period to stay hydrated, eat that food that was not in your diet and lie in bed to recover your body. The race is made of new goals always. So, what’s your next challenge?