6 steps to training for your first marathon

October 16, 2014

Going for a run is one thing; training for a marathon is something else. Here are a few tips to get your prepared before your first marathon.

6 steps to training for your first marathon

Are you ready for a marathon?

If you're planning to start training for a marathon, it's important to understand that it's a long-term process. Even if you run on a regular basis, you should expect to do two to three months’ of serious training before being ready to do a marathon.

1. Get the right gear

  • Before you begin to train for a marathon, your first step should be to buy a good pair of running shoes. It is truly the most basic necessity.
  • There are many shoes on the market that are specially designed for runners, and a good sports shops will have staff who can advise you about which ones are best for long-distance running.
  • Investing in running clothes is also a good idea; a wicking fabric is best, as cotton retains moisture and gets heavy and uncomfortable.

2. Eat an appropriate diet

A healthy diet is essential if you’re planning to train for a marathon.

  • Approximately two hours before your run, consume foods that are high in carbohydrates, but low in fats and fibre, to get sufficient energy.
  • Avoid running right after meals.
  • Consume carbs hourly on your long outings.

3. Be sure to hydrate

  • Drink a lot of fluids before, during and after training.
  • Replace the fluids and sodium you lose by hydrating regularly with water and low-sugar energy drinks.

4. Train progressively

  • To reduce your risk of injury, make sure to stretch before and after every run and rest at least one day a week.
  • Avoid overtraining or running too much.
  • Do some low impact training, such as swimming or cycling, one or two days a week.
  • Develop your endurance gradually by increasing your speed and distance.
  • Figure out a good rhythm; a beginner should be able to carry on a conversation while running.
  • Keep good posture and launch yourself from the tip of the foot rather than the heel.

5. Find a suitable program

  • Choose a training program that is suitable for your level, or hire a trainer.
  • Before entering a marathon, you should be able to run a five-kilometre run, a 10-kilometre run and a half-marathon to ensure you don't injure yourself.

6. Taper off before the big day

  • To be in top shape on the day of the race, you need to taper off on your training progressively, two to three weeks prior to the event.
  • Tapering off will allow you to reduce any physical or psychological fatigue and will reinforce all the endurance you acquired through your training.

If you think you're ready to run a marathon, be sure to maintain the necessary motivation to train, set realistic goals for yourself and be sure you're always running for the pleasure, not out of any sense of obligation.

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