Marathon Training for the Beginning Runner

As a former runner and track coach, I know how hard it is to successfully complete a marathon run. This article will give some suggestions for the first time marathon runner.

To run a marathon, you have to totally commit yourself to the task at hand. This means setting a positive vision for yourself. Once you have done that, you are prepared to begin your training regimen. Training means having a plan. It also means time. The first time runner can not just go out and run the next day. It takes time and lots of preparation for this type of run. It also means knowledge. While you train, gather and read articles about what other runners do.

Training; Get a medical physical exam first. You need to understand what your body can actually do. Training varies for each individual. Experienced runners have a program that they use. However, since you are a beginner, this is what you need to do. Ask yourself this question. Do you plan to compete or just finish the race? Most runners plan just to finish. That is what this article is geared towards. Your training time is dictated by your over all fitness level. I suggest 6 to 9 months of training for the beginner.

Start Slow and Low; Use a slow pace and start at low distances. Each time you go out add a little more speed and distance to your workout. There is a training program referred to as LSD. This means long slow distance running. Over time, you will build up your endurance and strength levels. The first few training sessions should be between 2 to 5 miles. Don’t worry about your times at first. Just focus on building and preparing your body. Run once a day until you can cover 13 miles. at that point go to two work outs a day.

Overload; This process means doing more than you usually do. Once you get in shape, try going the extra mile. Try picking up your pace. Select a more difficult course to train on. Add some weight and aerobic training to your program. About half way through your training, try to run half the distance. This would be about 13 miles. Once you master this, you can start preparing for the full distance.

Know the Course; One month before the race, ride the course with a bike. Make notes of hills and terrain. Look for possible problem spots. Take note of the weather and climate of the area. Is your race in the heat or extreme cold? Are there long stretches of flat course? How is the automobile traffic in the area? Does the course provide little or no shade? All of the above are important considerations.

Finally, study the final six miles of the course. This is the part of the race that reduces runners to walkers. At about the 20 mile mark, you will hit the wall. This wall is made up of pain and mental fatigue. Both will work against you as much as the race course will. When you hit this wall, it is very easy to stop, walk and even quit. At this point of the race, your mental toughness needs to take charge. Physically and mentally focus on relaxation, knee lift, a relaxing stride, minimal arm movement and breathing.

Speaking of breathing, I once had a teammate who would take 15 minutes before and after each training session to sit and focus on deep breathing. He claimed that it helped in getting a second wind while running.

Other Factors; Diet and hydration is important. Each runner is different. A personal trainer can help you with this area. A couple of consultations should be adequate enough for advice. Their advice is well worth the money.

Shoes are also important. You want the lightest and most comfortable shoe available. There are shoes just made for marathon training and running.

Cross training allows to break the monotony of training. Swimming, biking, dance and step aerobics are excellent for cross training. Do cross training on the days you don’t run. Always give your body one day off from running each week.

Think positive and dream big. You can do it.

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