You signed up for a(nother) marathon, now what? If this is your first marathon, you may ask yourself questions like: How long is a marathon? How to train for a marathon? Or how to become a marathon runner?
First of all, congratulations! Running a marathon is an exciting personal challenge and is an ambitious goal for many. It is not an easy feat and takes a lot of hard work. However, the journey of marathon training is well worth it and, if you do it right, you will build both mental and physical toughness.
Whether you are running your very first marathon or you are aiming to run a Boston qualifying time, the following 5 marathon training tips are essential to crushing your marathon goals.
1. Slow It Down (seriously)
You need to have built a solid running base before starting a dedicated marathon training plan. Building your aerobic engine requires running a lot of slow miles.
Not only will these slow miles develop your cardiovascular and respiratory system, but it will also get your bones, joints, and ligaments used to pounding the pavement for extended amounts of time.
There are several popular ways to pin down what this slow pace should be for you.
For most beginners, especially if you are coming over from another sport, take what you feel is a comfortable pace and go even slower, walk if needed. You need to be at least able to have a conversation while running.
If you have a heart rate monitor, you can run based upon heart rate zones, or you can use the Maffetone method.
2. Stay Consistent & Motivated
Virtually everyone begins their training plan running full of excitement. It is another thing to stay motivated every day.
You may have heard of this quote by philosopher Will Durant (often misattributed to Aristotle);
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”
Remember that behind the success of every top athlete lies years of consistent training, including many bad weeks and setbacks. To become a successful marathon runner, you need to have the intrinsic motivation to keep showing up day after day. As long as you do not give up, the excellent sessions and fitness will come.
Here are some tips to stay motivated and build mental stamina:
- Set short term goals such as hitting a specific mileage per week/month
- Remind yourself why you signed up in the first place
- Focus on the process rather than the result
3. Improve Your Running Technique
Have you ever wondered how Olympic marathon runners can make a pace of 5min per mile look so effortless?
Not only do these athletes have an extraordinary cardiovascular system and a talent for running, but they also crafted a perfect running form for themselves.
Everybody’s anatomy is slightly different. Therefore, it never hurts to get in touch with your local running store for gait analysis, or to consult an athletic therapist or running coach for running technique optimization; otherwise, there is a wealth of resources available online.
Here are some of the highest yield tips, grounded in science, that you can get started on today:
- Avoid overstriding: aim to strike midfoot with a cadence of >170 steps per minute
- Implement strength-training: target muscle imbalances, proper hip alignment, and foot strength
- Wear appropriate shoes: find footwear suitable to your gait
- Dynamic stretching: do a couple minutes of dynamic stretches to get your muscles fired up before a run
4. Listen to Your Body
If you are truly serious about marathon training, your life will revolve around your running schedule. It means you have to plan rest and recovery on non-running days consciously.
When preparing for a marathon, it is common to feel tired and have sore legs, but this can quickly escalate into severe consequences such as overtraining and injury.
Early signs of overtraining include feeling overly tired with a high morning heart rate and poor performance. Later symptoms include and the possible development of a painful, serious injury, such as stress fractures of the tibia from disregarded shin splints.
Therefore, it is essential to listen to your body and take care of any ailments you may be developing, especially during high mileage weeks.
If you do feel an injury budding, remember the acronym R.I.C.E. often used by sports medicine professionals, which stands for Rest-Ice-Compress-Elevate.
Besides emphasizing qualitative rest and recovery, make sure to get adequate sleep, hydrate, and eat nutritious meals.
5. (Pre-)Race Day
Rest: Make sure to decrease your running volume 7-10 days before race day. This highly anticipated period of taper will allow your body to soak in the nutrients of all your hard work.
Sleep: Make sure to look up what time your chosen marathon starts and make sure to get your legs used to running at this time of the day. Sleep is a crucial factor for recovery at any time in your training plan, but should be prioritized even more the week before race day. Try and get at least 8 hours of qualitative sleep per night.
Food: Try and increase your carbohydrate intake 5-7 days before your race, so that your muscles have plenty of energy stored on race day. On race day, try and eat an easily digestible meal high in carbs and low in fiber.
Examples of excellent race day foods are thoroughly cooked white pasta, bananas, or white toast with jelly. During the race, don’t forget to refuel every 30-60 minutes with a high carb snack to avoid hitting a wall!
These essential factors will allow you to show up well-rested and full of energy at the starting line. Above everything, enjoy the hard work you have put in, embrace the race day energy, and be proud of your accomplishment.
Finishing a marathon is an accomplishment that less than 1% of people in the world can say they have achieved. Now get out there, enjoy the ride, and start training with consistency!
Train your breathing and reach the finish line
Much of your body's energy is preserved by your breathing. Training your lung muscles, also known as respiratory training, works just like any other muscle in your body.
Running a marathon takes all the preparation you can muster. Using data and technology can be a vital tool for understanding where you need to strengthen your performance. The Airofit breathing training can help get one step ahead of the competition. Using your smartphone you can easily monitor your progress and receive live data results.
If you want to know more about breathing training, visit Airofit.com!