Everything you need to know about training for a marathon
If you’re thinking about training for a marathon, you have plenty of company. An estimated 500,000 Americans go the distance every year.
What makes 26 miles and 385 yards running so popular? Maybe it proves that you have enough self-discipline or to hear the audience cheering for you as you cross the finish line. On the other hand, it is a big investment of time and effort.
Before you start training for a marathon, learn how to stay safe and maximize your performance.
Training Tips to Protect Your Safety
long-distance running puts a lot of strain on your body. Several studies have found that more than 50% of marathon runners experience running injuries each year. It is also important to stay alert when you are exercising outdoors.
Use these tips to stay safe and help prevent injury:
- Assess your readiness. Find out if you’re ready for a marathon. Many experts suggest that you should run for at least one year and try at least one first 5K race.
2. Talk with your doctor. Discuss health concerns with your doctor. They can advise against running if you have stress fractures or symptoms such as chest pain recently.
3. Watch your weight. You may be surprised to learn that most marathon runners do not lose weight. You tend to eat more when you’re training, so you may want to first diet if you have excess weight to shed.
4. Stay hydrated. Failing to drink enough water or sports drinks is one of the most common mistakes runners make. Plan on consuming lots of fluids throughout the day of your race.
5. Run with others. If you train in parks or other public areas, invite a buddy along. You’ll reduce your risk of becoming a crime victim, and you can help each other receive any necessary medical attention more quickly.
6. Face the traffic. Prevent accidents by running in the opposite direction of traffic. You’ll have more time to avoid hazards like distracted drivers.
Training Tips to Improve Your Performance
Even if you are racing just for fun or your own satisfaction, this is your chance to shine. Knowing how to train effectively will help you finish faster.
Try out these strategies to improve your performance:
- Take time off. You probably know that the proper recovery time helps your body heal, but it also increases your speed. Research shows that many marathon runners improve their times when they were reduced to 3 or 4 days of training per week instead of 5 or more.
2. Engage in active rest. What do you do with those extra hours? Swimming or yoga will give you a workout while your running muscles take a break.
3. Do long runs. The practice is the only way to get used to long distances. Ensure you can stay on your feet for 3 hours or more, and alternate your long runs with shorter distances or speed work.
4. Warm-up and cool down. Begin and end your workouts with less demanding activities to prepare your body for what’s ahead and encourage recovery afterward. Save your stretches for the final moments when your muscles are relaxed.
5. Taper off. Spend the last weeks running shorter distances and rest more. You will feel fresher and stronger on the day of your race.
6. Consult a trainer. Whether it’s your first marathon or you’re a veteran runner, a personal trainer or sports medicine specialist can help you design a program that will help you reach your personal goals and stay safe. Let your family and friends know how they can support you too.
Running a marathon can be useful, but you have to decide if this is the kind of commitment you want to make.
As long as you stay active and take on meaningful challenges, you can consider yourself a winner whether you race for prize money or prefer a gentler workout.
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