Running a marathon – the famed 26.2 – is a huge deal. Not everyone can do it, and it takes a lot of perseverance, hard work and a vision. If you're a casual runner considering taking on your first marathon, here are some tips for you to get started and ready to rock it:
Believe it or not, there's actually a lot to do before you begin marathon training. Here are some of the steps that will see you on your way to marathon completion:
Check with your doctor to get the green light for the vigorous training that running a marathon requires.
Get fitted for good running shoes. A specialist at a fitness store can watch you walk and run, and by examining your gait, he or she will be able to help you decide which pair of shoes is right for you. Bring in your old running shoes as well – some experts like to examine the wear patterns.
Get your other gear. Talk to fitness experts at a specialty running store, or ask around with friends who are hardcore runners. They can recommend the best socks, shorts or tights and other products and materials that eliminate chafing and will keep you cool (or warm) during your runs.
Schedule your runs. Being consistent is important in marathon training, so before you begin, make sure you have a set time each day for running, lifting, stretching and everything that marathon prep entails.
Learn about proper nutrition and hydration, and begin practicing it right away. You can find plenty of information online or consult with other runners to see what they do. Consider adding sports drinks, complex carbs and protein meal replacements – like Naturade Total Soy – to give your performance diet a boost.
Realize that you need to follow a training plan that is quite regimented, but that it's important to deviate from the plan if you have an injury or are not feeling 100 percent. Here are some basic training tips:
Keep a training log and record your distance, times and how you feel each day you run. You should also monitor your heart rate each morning before running and keep it in your training log. You'll have a baseline and will know that if your heart rate spikes, it might be time to relax the workout a bit.
Run three or four days per week. One day should be focused on distance, two should be focused on speed and one should be a recovery day where you take it easy.
Consider adding two days of strength training per week, which can include yoga, Pilates, weight-training or something similar.
You should increase your distance by no more than 10 percent each week. The gradual increase is important to prevent injury. On each third or fourth week, cut back on your miles for that week.
Give yourself at least one day per week to do no running.
Add cross-training like cycling, rowing or swimming to your routine. You should do these activities for only 45 minutes up to two times per week.