How to get ready for a marathon and avoid injuries? This question is common for all people who decided to cover a marathon distance. Sometimes it is just enough to follow a few simple rules to receive much pleasure from running and minimize all the difficulties of the training process and the race itself. We picked up the most important rules from the variety of recommendations and made up a list of TOP 10 tips for a marathon preparation.
1. Make Progress Step-By-Step
To increase the daily and weekly running distance use the general rule of 10%. You should not boost the weekly distance to more than 10%. This rule is a foundation of the majority of training programs, and it can tame high flying tempers of too ambitious runners. Beginners should start with realistic aims, for example, 5 km (3.1 miles). Then it will be 10 km (6.2 miles) and a semi-marathon. Only after that, you can set a marathon as a goal of your training process. Your entire body and your ligaments, tendons and joints need a step-by-step habituation to the increasing physical exercise. Too many training programs have been ruined because of overfatigue, burnout or injuries.
2. Stick To The Prep Plan
Beginners should make up a training schedule to get ready for a marathon. Today there is a huge variety of different training programs. Each of them has its specific features concerning the degree of complexity and intensity. All of them are based at the initial level of training and physical abilities of a runner.
Most training schedules assume no less than 20-24 weeks of preparation for a marathon start. Even so, every week is full of running training of different intensity, and on weekends there are long sessions that will make you closer to the precious distance of 42.195 km (26.219 miles).
3. Pay Attention To Your Food
Intensive marathon preparation does not mean that now you can eat tons of caloric junk food in a belief that your body needs more fuel. Indeed, your body burns many calories, but you have to eat healthy food to remain in good shape and have enough energy for active workouts.
You have to make up your own “long-distance” diet that consists of reinforcing products. Your digestive system as well as the entire body is exposed to high stresses on long distances. After one and half an hour workout, you can treat yourself to something tasty, but do not go a bridge too far.
4. Cooperate With Like-Minded People
If you find people who are getting ready for a marathon just like you, there is always a risk that they will overwhelm you with their pieces of advice. However, everyone needs a support, and it should come not only from family members. In such a challenge, the information exchange and emotional support of people who are up to speed on the topic are crucial.
If your friends are out of running, try to find like-minded people in the running groups in social media, running clubs or just become friends with runners in the park where you usually train.
5. Work Out A Running Strategy
Everyone is geared to his own speed that was worked out within the period of training. However, you should be down-to-earth and adjust your tempo depending on the way you feel. Sometimes long distances disappoint runners with slow beginnings, but it does not mean that the general result will be bad. On the other hand, an intensive start can lead to overfatigue at a later stage. The crucial thing is to pace yourself to cover such a long distance.
Without doubts, a marathon participant should stick to his diet and hydration plan during the race. A competent food choice can help avoid anhapeiratic cramps (especially in quadriceps and calves) that often inflict pain on marathon runners in the home stretch.
Dehydration is inevitable on long distances. However, according to the recent researches, it is more important to avoid excessive drinking than to stay a bit dehydrated. Until quite recently, a standard hydration rule for marathons was to drink water every 15 minutes. Such tactics can lead to a dangerous state of hyponatremia. It is characterized by a low level of sodium ions in blood plasma that makes it difficult the kidneys to eliminate extra water. This state is also known as “water intoxication”. Now it is recommended for marathon runners to drink water according to their own thirst perception.
The fluid loss equivalent to 1-2% of your weight is not dangerous. This rule works for any liquids including sport drinks. Nevertheless, dehydration of 3-4% from the body weight is quite dangerous. It is important to find a balance, stay realistic about your state and take hot weather into account.
The key aspect is to prepare your equipment before the start. Your morning should be set free for healthy nutrient breakfast 2-3 hours before the race. In the week leading up to the start you should get enough sleep every night.
6. Do Not Forget About Recovery
Recovery is a crucial component of any training. It seems surprising, as at the thought of a workout nobody imagines himself sitting on a coach. However, if you do not give your body an opportunity to restore, you carry the risk to get injuries and other health problems. You can also get an overtraining syndrome that results in lack of impulse to training, decrease in immunity and even depression.
To avoid this syndrome, you should leave at least one day in a week for rest. Weeks of intensive training should alternate with weeks of short stress-free workouts. You should not push yourself too hard during the last 2-3 weeks before the marathon. The training schedule should result in self-efficacy, not exhaustion.
Pay attention to what you eat. Your body needs enough amount of carbohydrates and proteins for the working state of the muscular system and restoration of glycogen reserves in muscles and liver. Glycogen is a form of glucose that represents a quickly mobilizing energy reserve for active physical training. According to the modern researches, it is a good practice to eat every two hours, theoretically in 30-45 minutes after running.
7. Buy Quality Running Shoes
It is not just important to buy rational footwear for training and marathon, it is extremely necessary to consider a few factors. People have different footsteps and biomechanical features. Today there is an opportunity to select running shoes in special running labs according to the pronation (a footstep amortization mechanism) and running type (from the forefoot, heel or whole footstep).
However, comfort is still an important choice criterion. You will have to listen to your feelings when choosing from a few pairs of shoes offered by professionals. It is a good recommendation to select a pair that is one size larger that you actually wear. Long-distance running always leads to pedal edema. It is a bad practice to go on your marks in new shoes. Your footwear should be probe-tested at trainings. At the same time, you should not run in worn-out shoes.
8. Perform Different Exercises
In most cases, injuries among beginners are connected with quick muscle build-up and slow adaptation to the increased stress on ligaments and tendons. To eliminate this imbalance it is advisable to perform special running exercises. Usually they compose training routines that include exercises on flexibility and strength to develop muscles and ligaments of ankles, knees, thighs and hip joints.
9. Listen To Your Body
You have to learn and recognize the signals of your body. You are to feel when it is time to have rest or to try harder. You can and have to disregard slight pain that revives in a few seconds during the race or in the course of 2-3 days of rest. However, one cannot ignore the pain that makes you stop in the middle of the race and does not go away within a few days of rest. In this case, you should request medical assistance. It is better to contact a doctor in exercise therapy and sports medicine. More often than not, a good rest and early rehabilitation give a chance to the quick recovery, and disregard leads to the worsening of symptoms and continuous treatment.
10. Enjoy The Process!
One cannot assess all the risks when preparing for a marathon. Apart from physical aspects, you may face difficulties in daily life that can interrupt your training plan. Nevertheless, positive attitude is one of the key elements of success. You should be ready to win and to meet presumable failures. Your workouts and everything else related to the marathon preparation should make you happy.