With less than 6 weeks until the Barcelona marathon I’m now deep in my marathon training. This basically means my Sundays involve doing a really long run then spending the rest of the day eating and sleeping. I think most marathon runners would agree that a marathon isn’t just about the 26.2 miles you do on the day, but also the countless miles you do in training. And while some people will get around a marathon course with little or no training, to get a good time a solid few months of training is a must.
Everyone finds training a little bit different, but I’ve shared these tips I’ve learnt over the years of training for half and full marathons as they might help if you’re planning on running your first marathon.
Follow a plan
I tend to create my own marathon training plans, but there are loads of plans available if you search on the web. No matter which one you choose just having some sort of training plan will help, as it will ensure you are getting in the right amount of long runs at the right time before race day. A training plan will also help to stop you from getting injured as you will ideally be building up the miles gradually so the longest runs aren’t too much of a shock on your body.
Include strength training
One of the reasons why I create my own marathon training plan is because I also go to Crossfit throughout the week and I incorporate this into my training. The great thing about Crossfit for me is that it includes a lot of strength training in the form of weightlifting. Even if you don’t do Crossfit adding some strength training into your plan will help to build stronger leg muscles that can withstand pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles. In the past I would barely lift any weights or if I did I would keep to light weights, but once I started lifting heavier weights I felt much stronger towards the end of long runs, while my pace wasn’t affected at all.
Eat the right foods
While training for a marathon does mean you can get away with eating a little more than non-marathon runners, it is a myth that long distance runners can eat what they like. The human body is very clever and very good at adapting which means that once you start regularly running longer distances your body will use less energy to cover the miles, which means you could be burning less calories than you realise. This is why some people find that they actually put on weight when training for a half or full marathon! Listening to your body is key to making sure you don’t over eat. Along with making sure you get enough protein, vegetables, carbs and healthy fats.
Stretch and foam roll
Like most runners I’m terrible at bothering to stretch, but I do notice the difference when I’m strict and force myself to stretch. Running long distances does take a toll on the body so taking care of yourself is important and regularly stretching will not only help your muscles but also make your next run easier. If possible, a sports massage is also a great addition to your marathon training – be warned though they are not relaxing!
Rest days are sacred
Just as important as your long run day is your rest day. Whether you choose to take one or two a week, ensuring you have a day of no exercise apart from a little stretching will help your body to rest and recover. Over the last few years I’ve learnt the importance of recovery, not just for athletic performance but also as it helps to stop you from getting injured and over training.
I hope these tips are helpful and if you have any more I’d love to know…