How to prepare for a marathon
Whether you’re new to endurance running or you’re a seasoned pro, running the 26.2 miles to complete a marathon takes stamina, pace – and mental agility. With some of the most famous marathons set in some of the world’s most iconic locations, from London to New York, Tokyo to Paris, there’s no shortage of inspiring places to get your steps in.
Whilst the average runner can only dream of a time of just over 2 hours achieved by Eliud Kipchoge and Kenenisa Bekele, there are some things you can do to prepare for your best marathon time yet.
Preparing for the race
It’s fair to say some people are more natural at running than others, but that doesn’t mean even the most athletic can get away with no preparation. Most runners take between four and six months to prepare for a marathon.
In order to really maximise your training, you should follow a strict training plan which gradually builds up to the required 26 miles. The plan should contain speed runs, endurance runs, and recovery runs.
During your preparation, you should find the style of trainer that suits your running style and invest in a second pair, that you then break in a couple of weeks ahead of the race. You should also start running in the clothes you plan on running in to make sure you feel comfortable.
The day before the race
The day before the race you should enjoy a slow recovery run or gentle swim, followed by a slow yoga session. Enjoy carb and protein-heavy foods, but avoid greasy foods and alcohol.
If possible – and if the nerves don’t get the best of you, have a warm bath and an early bedtime. If you’ve travelled for the race, try and arrive at least a day before the race – especially if there’s a time difference.
The day before check the weather forecast to make sure you’re prepared. Whether it’s packing extra suncream or waterproof – or both if you’re running in Britain!
During the run
It can be tempting to get swept up with the fastest runners at the race, but instead, you need to set your pace. Take the time to allow your body and your lungs to warm up before you start to shift through your gears.
Listening to a podcast or playlist can help motivate you – especially if it’s a playlist that corresponds to your running tempo.
Staying hydrated is key to helping you finish the race strong. Remember, as soon as you feel thirsty – you’re dehydrated.
After the marathon
After the race, you need to take it easy. But that doesn’t mean you should sit still. After such a long period of exertion, your muscles can go into spasms if you don’t move them. A gentle walk, stretch and a sports massage can all help.
You may even start to notice some twinges. If you think you were injured during the race because you were running on an uneven surface, you may be entitled to make a claim.
For any injuries, you should always seek expert advice from a healthcare provider and seek necessary treatment as soon as possible.