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How to Prepare & Train for a Marathon
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How to Prepare & Train for a Marathon

Marathon Medal Winner.

Your reasons to run a marathon may vary from wanting to stay fit to achieving personal glory. Either way, it is important to know the correct technique of running to perform well and avoid injuries. The best way to learn any technique is through constant and focused practice.

There are many exercises and tricks involved when it comes to training for a marathon. Some basics remain the same regardless of the sport. These are – eating a healthy and nutritious diet, practicing regularly and taking adequate rest. When it comes to practice and training, you must know your current potential and limits to prevent overtraining and maximizing gains.

To help you understand the fundamentals of a good marathon training session, here are the four building blocks of marathon practice.

Marathon Training – The Building Blocks

Every practice session should include these four elements to get the most out of your training. These four principles will greatly enhance your performance, skill and endurance.

1.    Base Mileage

If you are a beginner, your stamina at the start of your training may not be very impressive. You must aim to increase your weekly mileage to 50 miles (ca. 80 km) over a course of 4 months (about 12 to 20 weeks) before the day of the race.

To achieve this feat, ensure that you run three to five times every week. Do not push yourself too much. You should run at a relaxed pace. This may sound odd, but running lightly will also help in building your stamina.

Slowly increase your mileage every week. The increase should not exceed 10 per cent of your current running feat. Otherwise, you may experience fatigue and soreness.

2.    The Long Run

The long run should happen once every seven to ten days. You can add a mile to your long run with every successive session. But remember to scale back after a few sessions. This will help you build more endurance and confidence. Here is an example: If you currently run 10 miles (ca. 16 km), increase it to 11 miles after 10 days. Then, further increase it to 12 miles after a gap of another 10 days. But in the next session, run for 10 miles again instead of increasing your long run to 13 miles.

3.    Speed Work

To enhance your aerobic abilities and ease your running, practicing speed work is a must. There are two components of speed work – intervals and tempo runs.

See Also

Intervals include running at a high speed for some distance and then slowing down for some time, before resuming your fast-paced running. You may choose to jog or walk during the interval. But do not stop to catch a breath (unless you are totally exhausted)

Tempo runs are similar to intervals but involve longer high speed running and less frequent intervals. This will train your mind and body to function over longer durations.  

4.    Recovery and Rest

On rest days you should not do any running. But you can engage in cross-training which does not involve a lot of leg work. Rest not only allows your body to recover but also prevents injuries. In fact, two or three weeks before a marathon you should scale back on your training to ensure your body has enough stamina for the race day. This is called tapering.

Other Important Tips

Apart from training hard, you should ensure that you get a nutritious diet. Ensure that you stay hydrated during your training. A good way to do this is by carrying a hydration belt or pack. You also need fuel for your body. During a marathon, you need at least 60 grams of carbs per hour of running. Some good options for fuel are energy gel, small energy bars or pieces of fruit. 

Half Marathon Training for Beginners by Global Triathlon Network

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