Wondering how to train for a marathon? Well, training for a marathon is a strict, tough, and never-ending program, especially if you’ve never done it before. Here’s what to expect.
Life’s about movement – both physical and mental. You need to keep your muscles and your body engaged in order to stay healthy.
This feeds directly into your mental wellbeing, but your mind also requires more than that in order to feel satiated – it has an intrinsic curiosity to ‘keep it moving’ on the life-long path of learning.
Movement is the essence of existing, which is why so many people feel elated when they run.
However, running a marathon is very different from your average freeform running. If you enjoy jogging, that is outstanding, but it doesn’t mean that you are nearly as ready for a marathon as you might be tempted to think you are.
How To Train For A Marathon?
If you are about to face the challenge of running a marathon for the first time, here’s how to train for a marathon:
1. The Broad Strokes
Let’s start off with some palpable information. If you have never run a marathon before, you’ll want to grant yourself at least four months (16-18 weeks) of consistent workout.
Specifically, you’ll want to focus on cardio exercises, run as much as you can, pushing yourself further every day.
Preferably, your training period will be around six months. That’s right, you’ve read this correctly, it should take half-a-year of training for the first-timer if you want this to be a safe bet.
In parallel, you’ll want to alter your dietary plan, since the ‘rhythm’ of eating can make a whole difference in the world, especially within the interval of 48 hours before the marathon.
You need to build a body that can tackle 5K, 10K, half-marathons and then, finally, the 42+K distance of a full marathon. And you’ll want to build that resilience into your legs at least a week before the event.
It’s not merely about physical preparation – you need to build mental endurance as well and learn how to cover this incredible distance without the mindset that sees it as an insurmountable obstacle.
2. Big Things Have Small Beginnings
But we are getting ahead of ourselves. Overcoming the greatest challenge has to begin with the first step, and the first steps can seem small in comparison.
Every accomplished individual, whether they have conquered the realm of sport, art or business, will tell you that you simply have to begin with small steps, and that persevering with them makes all the difference in the end.
Believe it or not, but that old writer’s advice that, in order to write a novel, you have to begin by writing one to three pages a day and do it consistently, works like a charm here as well.
3. Get The Right Equipment
Owning the appropriate outfit for the marathon will put you in the right mindset. After all, we humans are visual creatures, so we tend to double down on goals if we have concrete visual anchors that tie us to them.
It is also about utility. Marathon enthusiasts that are getting ready for a marathon need reliable running stopwatches in order to work on training efficiency.
Running shoes that fit and clothes that won’t irritate skin also go a long way.
Every element you assemble is an integral part of what you can dub your ‘power suit’ for conquering the full marathon.
However, you are also well aware of the fact that this is not enough to commit. You also have to outline a schedule for the following 16 weeks to 6 months (though it would be more prudent if your preparation length veered towards the later interval) and keep working at it every day.
4. Build Up Your Core
The crucial thing is, apart from running on a daily basis, to build your core. I.e. you should work on your abs and strengthen the lower-back muscles.
If you are too weak to do ten sit-ups in a row, it means that this should be your top priority. If sit-ups are too demanding for you, you can start by doing planks.
This, coupled with jogging sessions where your goal will always expand, should present a solid basis.
5. Fuel Yourself Properly
When it comes to the dietary plan, you should definitely start with reducing the intake of pastry and limit yourself to healthy carbohydrates.
Wholegrain is the name of the game, and they are high-energy food.
Apart from eating a diverse diet that includes a lot of protein, fruits, and veggies, you should work towards reducing your overall daily intake by 20% at the very least. Teach your body that it should work for itself and increase overall hydration.
Furthermore, if you are about to participate in a running session that is at least 45 minutes long, it is advisable to bring along a healthy snack and ‘fuel’ yourself along the way.
Yes, you’ve read it right again – if you plan to endure a full-blown marathon, you’ll have to eat something along the way.
This snack should be as small as possible and high in energy value. Many seasoned runners rely on GU – the gel that comes pre-packaged in 100-calorie servings, which boasts a mixture of fast-burning and slow-burning calories to keep your engines going.
A Few More Tips Before Running Your First Marathon
Before you tackle the full marathon, which is approximately 42.2 km or 26.2 miles long, you might want to try your hand at a half-marathon (its length implied in the name).
If you consider your first marathon stint is a worthy goal, it will require you to invest time and effort. Just like with all worthy things, commitment, consistency, and effort pay off in the long run.
As it has been implied in the text above, you cannot decide to participate in a marathon on a whim, just a few weeks away from the scheduled event.
You have to allow your body enough ‘breathing room’ to adapt, change and become prepared for something as challenging as a marathon.
After all, if you’ve never done it before, but you count yourself among eager joggers, your ‘freshman’ experience will give you the right perspective on what you need to invest, no matter how it turns out.
As you can see, these tips on how to train for a marathon are not enough to get you fully prepared. They’ll just give you a heads up on what to expect as a marathon beginner.
For more information, tips, and step-by-step programs on how to train for a marathon you should consult with your doctor, a specialist, or an expert marathon runner.