Wednesday, May 16, 2018

10 Tips on How to Best Train for a Marathon

Whether a serious competitor or a casual fitness dabbler feeling the pressure from friends, a marathon was never going to be easy for you because it’s not supposed to be. They call it a challenge for a reason! While the pain may be unavoidable, it does not have to be an utter nightmare. Don’t miss these 10 essential training tips:

1. Running is Not Everything
It goes without saying that the leading way to train for a marathon is to practice running. However, low-impact exercises come with the advantage of promoting your performance without risking your muscles or joints. Take some days off and dedicate them to such activities as swimming, cycling, yoga, or weight training.

2. Be Careful of Overdoing It
If you increase your training too quickly, you may burn yourself out or even cause an injury. It’s recommended to restrict your additional increments to a maximum of two miles per week, with the rough goal of hitting the 25-mile point at least a month before the big day. Download one of the many apps available to keep track of your pace.

3. Purchase the Correct Footwear
The greatest shoe doesn’t necessarily mean the flashiest or most expensive brand, but rather the one which fits your foot comfortably. Ensure you choose something flexible, light, and with plenty of arch support if you require it. Test out a few options before you buy, and ask the salesperson for advice. Finally, always wear thick socks to protect against blisters, and be very wary of your old running shoes.

4. Dealing with the Pain

The best advice for dealing with any foot or knee discomfort is to never ignore it and to never run through it. You may think you are being brave, but you risk further (perhaps even permanent) damage which could mean no marathon at all. Consider any tenderness to be a warning sign, take some time off, and get a medical professional to identify the cause of your knee pain if it persists.

5. Make the Most Out of Your Recovery Time
If you find your performance is beginning to wane, it’s probably best to take a break. Otherwise, you may lose motivation or injure yourself. If you can afford it, spend a week away from your program and use it to sleep often and eat healthily. Stretch as much as possible, take long baths, and visit a masseuse (or use a foam roller) to reduce any inflammation and speed up your recovery period.

6. Visualize Your Success
This may sound silly to some, but many athletes attest to its benefits. In your mind’s eye, imagine your physique at peak performance while developing some encouraging mantras to repeat to yourself as you run. These positive affirmations will train your brain with your body and will help tame your frustrations during those inevitable rough patches.

7. Take Advantage of Social Media
Chances are, your chosen marathon will have its own social media accounts on most platforms, so seek them out and join the conversation. There may be meetups where you can train with other participants, or perhaps there will be an official hashtag you can use to share your progress. Just ensure you don’t take it too seriously and never compare yourself to other people who seem ahead of you!

8. Watch Your Diet Before the Marathon

While carb-loading the night before is a common suggestion, this practice may actually clog up your system and make it difficult to sleep. Instead, consume your carbohydrates for lunch the day previous, and stick to a lighter dinner before bed. In the morning, eat breakfast at least three hours ahead of the race to encourage proper digestion (good choices include fruits, porridge, or a peanut butter bagel).

9. Refuel While Running
It is important to maintain your carbohydrate levels during the marathon itself. Every hour or so, snack on some energy gels, a large banana, or a honey sandwich to keep your body functioning at its maximum. Another smart tip is to decide on this food before your event (including any sponsored sports drinks they may be handing out) and consume those specific items while you train. This will avoid any unwanted stomach surprises on the day.

10. After the Marathon
Once you’ve crossed the finish line, take a shower, eat a meal loaded with protein, and then go have a nap. You deserve it! Give your body some time to rejuvenate after what you’ve been through, but there is no harm in a quick jog to keep the blood flowing either. You might as well start preparing for the next marathon now, right?

This is a guest blog entry.

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