For many runners, completing a marathon is a bucket list goal but first-time marathon training can be intimidating for athletes if not approached properly. Taking the plunge and committing to run a marathon is a big decision. Preparation and good marathon training are key to achieving the results you want on race day.
We caught up with Anna Weber, Olympic Trials Qualifier and seasoned marathon runner, to find out her top tips for marathon newbies.
Getting Started with Marathon Training
Most beginner marathoners will require 4 – 5 months of training, depending on how new they are to running. If you have never run farther than 8 – 10 miles (12 – 16 kilometers) at once, you should give yourself extra time to build up endurance.
However, if you are comfortable with longer distances, or have completed a half marathon, 4 months of training is appropriate.
Additionally, when signing up for a spring or fall marathon, make sure you consider your region’s typical weather conditions leading up to race day. If you dislike running in the heat, a fall marathon may not be suitable. On the other hand, a spring race may be a poor choice if you dislike snowy weather.
Use the Proper Gear
Next you should take a trip to a local running store and load up on the proper gear. If you have not already done so, ask to be fitted for a pair of running shoes. This step is important because it will help keep you blister and injury free throughout your training.
Other useful gear includes:
- A foam roller for recovery,
- A hydration pack and nutrition accessories for long runs,
- A GPS watch,
- At least one pair of comfortable shorts that won’t chafe.
Set Yourself Goals
Marathon training is made easier when you have defined goals. These will motivate you on days you struggle to get out the door.
If you are new to running, your goal may be as simple as finishing the race without walking. If you have more experience, a good way to gauge your potential marathon performance is to take your half marathon PR, double it, and then add 5 – 7 minutes.
Advanced runners may set even bigger goals, such as qualifying for the Boston Marathon.
Be Aware of the Marathoner’s Hierarchy of Needs
Runners are often guilty of assuming that more is always more, when in reality this attitude can easily lead to injury or burn-out.
The hierarchy of needs for a marathoner is:
- Consistent mileage,
- The weekly long run,
- Marathon-paced tempos,
- Faster-than-marathon paced workouts.
When life gets in the way, eliminate your runs/workouts in descending order, with the faster-than-marathon paced work first and rest/recovery last.
Consistency goes a long way when it comes to training for your first marathon, and the overall goal should be to accomplish the weekly mileage, even if it means getting creative with your training schedule.
Take Care of Your Nutrition and Hydration
Finally, never underestimate the value of taking proper care of your nutritional needs during training.
Runners often feel that long runs and increased mileage gives license to eat anything and everything. In reality this attitude can set the runner back, both in terms of recovery and weight gain.
While you can still allow yourself the odd indulgence, make sure you are fueling your body with high-quality foods. In addition, aim for proper hydration throughout the day by striving for clear-to-pale colored urine.
Ultimately, good nutrition and hydration will stave off extreme muscle soreness and injury while also helping you avoid “hitting the wall” during long runs.
About the Author
Anna Weber is an elite runner from Indianapolis, USA. In July 2015 she made the brave decision to put her PhD in Analytical Chemistry on hold so that she could follow her true passion – running. Since then she has worked harder than ever before and in October 2015 she qualified for the Olympic Trials at the Medtronic Twin Cities Marathon in a time of 2:38:39.
Anna’s huge success is recognized by the running apparel company Oiselle, whose mission is to provide inspiration and support to women of all running levels. Oiselle have made Anna a member of their Haute Volée team which is their Elite Team.
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