Training for a marathon isn’t just about acquiring miles. In fact, if that is the only training that you do, then chances are good you might never make it across the finish line. Just like any event in life, there is a lot of planning and preparation that goes into crossing the finish line.
Sometimes it isn’t just about running a marathon; it is about staying on track to train and not to end up injured. All too often our lofty goals get benched when we don't see the whole picture of what we need to do to accomplish our goals. If you want to ensure that this is your year to achieve your marathon goal, then these are the five things that you must add to your marathon training.
As a woman, one of the hardest things to do is to increase the amount that you eat. Like the antithesis of what society tells us, if you are training for a marathon, eating extra calories might go against your mindset, but it is necessary. I am not talking about getting an additional dessert every night. It is about making the right and necessary choices to get all the nutrition you need to get you through the grueling training that it is going to take to take you across the 28.6-mile trek.
Most people think that training for a marathon is all about acquiring mileage, but that isn’t the case. Training to put your body through the rigors of running that many miles, involves more than running the same route. If you want to ensure that you will make it over the finish line and without injury, you are going to want to incorporate different types of strength and weight training. It isn’t just your running muscles that need to stay strong; it is about your stabilizers and your joints too.
You have to put your body under many different types of stress to ensure that it is ready for the hardship of running a marathon. Things like Yoga to keep your muscles elongated and strong and pilates to keep your core muscles physically fit, are all integral to making sure you don’t end up on the injured bench and that you have the power to make it across the end line.
The more varied your training is, the better. The key to marathon training is to keep your body guessing from day to day. One day focus on power by implementing a plyometrics routine, the next day hit the gym to lift weights. The more varied you make your exercise routine, the more you will ensure that every part of your musculature is ready to take on the challenge and that you have no limiting factors to slow you down or take you out completely.
Half of a marathon is having the body strength to complete it, the other half is having the mental stability to get through it. You can’t run a marathon overnight, well unless it is a midnight run. A huge component to running a marathon is to convince yourself that you can do it, to begin with. Pessimism is not a marathon runner’s friend. If you believe you can do something, you can. So, it is important to incorporate self-affirmations and self-encouragement into your marathon training. The best way to do that is by setting small, incremental, and consistent goals that you can achieve daily. Instead of making “running a marathon” the goal, break it up so that you can give yourself a little mental boost of accomplishment frequently to get you through the rough spots.
No pain, no gain, wasn’t a phrase created by a winning athlete. If you are feeling pain, then take some time off and pay attention. Pain is the way that the body tells you about weaknesses and warns you that injury is right around the corner. As hard as it is to stop your training schedule when you get into a groove, if your body is telling you it is exhausted, or you feel pain in a specific area of your body, then give it a break. Pain is the only way that your body has to tell you that something is wrong. Not meant to be ignored, if you are good to your body, it will be good to you!
Even though the summer weather might be switching to more fall-like temperatures, that doesn’t mean that your body isn’t going to need more hydration. If you are going to train for a marathon, be a geek and invest
in a fanny pack. There are a ton of cool ways to carry water while on the trail. Also, don’t be fooled into thinking that you need to rehydrate with sugary sports drinks that have electrolytes. It isn’t that electrolytes aren’t important; it is just that you can buy concentrated electrolytes to add to your water or enhanced water that already has them built-in. You will probably need to replace the sodium that you are sweating out, but you definitely don’t need the sugar of most sports drinks.
Training for a marathon is one of the hardest things that most people will ever do in their lifetime, which is why it is a popular “bucket list” item for athletes. If you want to make it to race day, and, once more, across the finish line, then smart training is the key versus pushing through the pain. If you treat your body right and listen to it, it will carry you where you want to be, on the other side of the yellow line.