Marathon running can be a great adventure, especially if this is your first. Regardless of the type of program you choose to train with, here are some tips you can use for any training program and some race day hints to help make it go as smooth as possible.
Remember, less can be more. Complete 2-3 18-20 mile runs about a month before the race. Then decrease your volume and distance considerably. Give your body time to recover 3 weeks before your marathon. You can increase your glycogen stores, improve your running efficiency and rejuvenate your body so you will be fresh for the big race.
Try substituting 25% of your running with other cardiovascular activities such as biking, swimming, or elliptical training. Train within your heart rate zones based on your program. This can help to minimize wear and tear on your muscles and joints.
Dealing with an injury
Don’t try to train through an injury, it will only get worse. If you have shin splints, sore knees, or a tight lower back, take some time away from the road. Try doing alternate cardio workouts such as an elliptical machine or pool running.
Race Day tips
Make sure you have everything you need 2 days before you leave for the race. Don’t leave anything to chance and make yourself more anxious on race day because you can’t find something you need. The better your organization, the more you can focus on your run.
Assess the weather the day of the race and adjust your goals accordingly. High or low temperatures, excessive humidity, and wind can all take their toll on your body during the course of 26.2 miles.
Get to the course early and plan on spending 15-20 minutes warming up your muscles to better prepare them for the long haul. A light jog, some heel kicks, and active stretches will better prepare you, and possibly take away a little anxiety. Races usually start in the morning and if you can start warm, you won’t have to spend the first few minutes being cold while you cross the start line.
After you cross that starting line you will find yourself in a crowd for a while, don’t waste a lot of energy darting through the masses if you’ve been placed with people who are running slower than you. Use the first 3 miles to find your rhythm and get up to the people you plan on keeping pace with.
Make sure you hydrate. Hydration should not begin the morning of the race. You should make a conscious effort to drink water at least 48 hours before the start of your marathon. It takes the body that long to fully fill its H2O stores.