Running a Marathon
Running a marathon is more than just ‘running faster than everyone else’. Marathons are grueling events that can tax even the most dedicated runner. Besides the training, you have to know how to pace yourself, determine how many people are probably in front and behind you, determine the conditions of the route, deal with weather and environmental influences. You also have to contend with other runners and possible injuries. It takes time to train properly for a marathon and in truth, many who start do not finish. But if you believe that you are a decent athlete and are interested in learning how to run a marathon, you need to know that it is not a walk in the park (although you may run through one). You need to be dedicated, focused, and have a lot of endurance. Here are some tips to help you learn how to run a marathon.
Get In Shape
You don’t need to be anywhere near a marathon if you are not in shape. It can tax even the best athlete and if you have trouble going up the stairs, you will never make it halfway through the course (much less to the finish line). You have to start out by getting in shape. Start out slow with 30 minute exercises. Keep to low impact exercises like biking or aerobics. Try to slim down and build up endurance first before you start the serious training. Once you have reached a level where you can exercise comfortably, you can start running.
Run, Run, And Run Some More
If you want to train to be in a marathon, you have to be able to run. This means a lot of practice. A marathon is like any other sport. If you don’t work at it, you won’t improve. The best thing to do is to start out by running only a mile or two and slowly build up from there. Don’t push yourself too hard too fast. Running too long a distance if you are not ready for it can cause injury to your body. Once you are use to doing a mile or two, then you can start adding more distance.
Another important thing to do when preparing for a marathon is to pick a training program that suits you. This is entirely up to your own preference. Some programs require that you run three days a week while others require that you run everyday. Distance varies depending on what program you create. Some people run a couple of miles a day while others run five or more miles at every session. Whatever program you decide to try out, the important thing is to stick with it.
Get Mentally Fit
Being physically healthy and in shape is only part of the battle. Marathons are won in the will. You need to have that iron determination to finish a marathon. Too many times runners who have the physical assets can’t finish a race because they don’t have a mental game. It is just as important to prepare yourself mentally as it is physically. When training, set small goals and push yourself to reach them. Mental willpower is not giving up in order to reach those goals.
Rehearse the Course
As soon as you register for a marathon and the route for the race is posted, you should if at all possible practice the route a couple of times. Run the course one or two times to get the feel for it. This will allow you the opportunity to get to know what the site is like, where there might be obstacles to watch out for, how to get to the race, etc. Be sure to check out the last half to quarter of the race course because this will be the crucial moment in the race when many runners will make their move.
The Day Before The Race
You should not run the day before the race. If you have been training properly, one more practice session will not do you that much good and you need to save up your energy. Make sure you know how to get to the race, where to park, and how early you need to get there. Some races require you to pick up your number and race information the day before. Others require you to pick them up the day of the race.
Despite what some runners believe, you should not load up on a big meal the night before. Sure, you need to eat and store up the energy for the next day but a big heavy meal will likely sit just as heavy in your stomach and could make you sluggish or otherwise hinder your capabilities. Also don’t go after the carbs for energy. Too many carbs will come back to haunt you on the day of the race. Pick a light but fulfilling meal. Also be sure to drink plenty of liquids the day before. Water or sports drinks with lots of electrolytes are good. Try to drink about half a cup every hour. Remember, your body is going to get seriously dehydrated during the race so it need sot be well hydrated beforehand. But, and this is important, don’t drink a lot right before the race. This could result in a full bladder and not every race will have bathroom facilities around the course. Avoid alcohol the night before as alcohol will only dehydrate you.
How Best To Run The Race
On the day of the race, position in the line-up is important to how much experience you have at marathons. If it is your first time or you don’t have much experience running marathons, you should line up at the back. If you line up near the front you will likely slow down faster runners. If you are a beginner, you should really take the race slowly and enjoy it.
You need to have a target pace picked out for yourself. This is the pace that you should have set during training that determines how fast you can run without getting tired out too soon. Check your pace every couple of miles to figure out if you are on track or taking the race either too fast or too slow. Pacing yourself is everything and it is easy to start out too fast in order to try to keep up with the more experienced runners. It is not against the rules to slow down and walk a bit if you get too tired. Always take advantage of a walk break.
As you run, be sure to occasionally shake your arms to get relief from holding them at the same position. They will likely get tired towards the end of particularly long races. You may even need to alter your strides to provide a little relief if your legs start to cramp.
Most races provide water along the route. Make sure you drink enough to keep you hydrated but don’t take too much. If it is a hot during the race, pour some over your head to help you cool down. Marathons during hot weather can be dangerous as they dehydrate you very quickly.
Try to save enough energy for a final burst right before the finish line. This is important in case you are neck and neck with other runners. Once you cross the finish line, keep walking for about another half a mile. This allows your body to gradually slow down and cool off. Drink plenty of liquids after the race to replenish all that lost water in your body. Do not consume alcohol. About 30 minutes to an hour after the race, eat a meal that is rich in carbs and protein to replenish the energy you have used up.