Whether you have your next one already scheduled, you’re preparing for your first one, or you’re still contemplating whether or not you want to commit to the 42.2km run, here are 5 tips to get you ready for your next marathon.
After completing my first Marathon in April 2021 and my experience with strength, conditioning, and rehabilitation, I wanted to provide you with some tips that I have picked up over my inaugural run and look to apply to my future marathons.
Slowly build up your tolerance
Last year during the COVID-19 outbreak, I increased my running a lot. Despite my understanding of injuries, I thought I would be able to tolerate 5-10km runs a couple of times a week – I couldn’t. I ended up with shin splints after a couple of weeks of regular running and had to sit myself out for a month to recover. If you are planning to do a marathon, give yourself ample time to prepare. At least 3-4 months of training will help you physically and mentally prepare for race day. Start with 1-2 running sessions per week and slowly build up your distance and sessions. In my training, I only ever ran up to three times per week but my duration increased.
You have to be strong to run
I think something that gets overlooked is the strength needed in your legs to carry you 42.2km. People often start running to get fitter but people often overlook the fact that you need to be strong/fit to run. Start with some bodyweight exercises including lunge variations, squats, and calf raises. Complete some strength training 2-3 times per week on alternating days and look to increase your reps over your training time. Think about how many steps you’re going to have to take on the run, your muscles need to have good strength-endurance to repeatedly contract and push you forward.
Have a training Plan B
Even small injuries can impact your training regime. Be prepared for that to happen, think about ways you can do cardiovascular training without running. If you have access to a gym membership, using the elliptical or the stationary bike will allow you to get your legs to move without the impact of running. If you find your legs are sore or fatigued, using the concept rower or even swimming some laps might be a good option to train your cardiovascular fitness while managing injuries.
Sleep and Recovery
If you’re anything like me, you love your sleep. I often plan my days around how much sleep I am going to get the night before or my training schedule. You cannot underestimate your recovery and sleep. Deep sleep is where your muscles and the nervous system recovers. Without enough sleep or good quality sleep, you are at a greater risk of overtraining and injuries. Make sure you have days of light activity. You might enjoy doing exercise every day and if that is the case, things such as a walk or Pilates maybe a low-intensity exercise option that you can do without feeling fatigued
Often the biggest mistake is not refueling your body. Yes, if you decide to increase the amount of running you do each week, you will increase the number of calories you burn each day. It isn’t enough just to eat more calorie-dense foods. You need to refuel the right way. Consuming a meal that contains carbohydrates and proteins after you run will help with muscle recovery and replenish the energy lost after exercise. Eating the right foods in preparation for your run and around your training will help you feel better prepared on race day and not cause an upset stomach.