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How To Prepare For A Marathon?

How To Prepare For A Marathon?

Often seen as the ultimate endurance test, Marathon running has grown enormously in popularity in recent years. Did you know the London Marathon now gets around a quarter of a million applicants each year? That's a lot of runners!

If you think you're up to the challenge then here's some advice to help you prepare.

Training Plan

The first, and possibly most obvious, thing that you need to prepare for a Marathon is a training plan. Most Marathon training plans last 16-20 weeks, or around 4-5 months, this is the minimum time you should spend training for a Marathon event.

If it’s your first Marathon, then you may not wish to set a time goal and instead just focus on completing the distance.

No matter what you’re aiming for there are plenty of training plans available online tailored to all goals and abilities, it’s just about finding the right one for you.

All training plans will include, long runs, short runs, & rest days. The key to successfully following a training plan is to remember the following points:

  • Be consistent- Being consistent with your training is key. This doesn’t mean that if you miss a day here and there then you won’t be ready. However, if you can
  • Know your limits- Don’t over do it, know your limits and if you’re finding it difficult remind yourself that it will get easier in time you just have to be patient.
  • Start early- Don’t leave it too late to start your training plan! 16-20 weeks is really a minimum, the longer you have to train the more prepared you will be.
  • Start small/slow- If you’re finding your training plan easy then it can be tempting to rush in and do more but you should take your time and stick to the plan, gradually increasing the length and intensity of your training runs as you go.
  • Recovery- No matter how well you stick to your long run days, if you skip those rest days you will end up paying for it. During exercise our bodies are put under a lot of pressure, and we need suitable time to recover afterwards. See: Why is rest important? 

Nutrition Plan

Just as important as your training plan, is your nutrition. This should be incorporated into your training and never underestimate its importance. Some key rules to follow are:

  • Don’t start too late- Start focusing on nutrition as soon as you begin your physical training plan, they go hand in hand.
  • Trial & Error- Nutrition is personal, not everyone has the same tastes or nutritional requirements. This includes in-race fuel products such as energy gels & energy drinks. Not everybody gets on with the same products so testing what works for you is important.
  • Practice your race fuel- Similar to the previous point, you must practice your in-race fuelling before race day. Using a new product on the day could be a disaster if you don’t react well to it.
  • Know what you need- Because Nutrition is personal it’s important to understand what your body needs. As mentioned before, everybody has different nutritional needs depending on a number of factors such as age, gender, height & weight.

Read more about the Benefits of Using Nutrition in Training.

Mental Preparation

Getting your training and nutrition plans down is only half of the battle. There is one element of Marathon running that many beginners overlook, mental preparation.

While running a Marathon is physically gruelling, it can also be a huge mental challenge. That’s why preparing yourself mentally is just as important as any of the other preparations you make before race day.

Here are a few things you can do to mentally prepare yourself:

Anticipate & prepare for obstacles- There’s always the possibility for unforeseen obstacles on the day, so be prepared for this and don’t let them set you back.

Run through worst-case scenarios in your head- By running through the worst-case scenarios in your head beforehand you can go into the race feeling prepared. It’s best to address anxieties rather than ignore them and let them get the better of you on race-day.

Accept that it won’t be easy- Accepting this early on will make you less likely to give up when it starts to get tough.

Keep a training diary- Recording your progress will give you something to look back at and see how far you have come. This can serve as a strong motivational tool.

During the race:

There are also a few things you can do during the race to help you mentally tackle those 26.2 miles.

Break up the distance into smaller chunks- by doing this you can focus on the moment rather than the overall race, making it feel less daunting.

Positive thinking- This sounds cliché but telling yourself you can do it will help. You have to believe in yourself to push yourself.

Think about why you’re there- Everyone has different reasons for wanting to enter a Marathon, think about your reason and let it motivate you.

 

 

Related Articles:

Nutrition Guide-Road Running

Answering the Top Googled Marathon Questions 

Marathon Nutrition Planning: Fuel your way to the finish line 

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