When it comes to bucket lists, there are a few things that seem to pop up pretty regularly. For example, it is common for people to dream that they’ll one day go skydiving, travel through Europe, swim with sharks, or run a marathon. This last one is somewhat surprising considering how few people actually apply themselves to improving or maintaining their fitness. Let’s face it—you don’t just make up your mind to run more than two dozen miles, then step out the door and do it. It takes commitment and preparation.
The interesting thing about the fact that so many people desire to run a marathon is that it indicates that people want to get into shape and do something intensely physical, even if that is not currently feasible for them. Why do so many of us fall short of our health and fitness goals? As mentioned above, it’s not for lack of wanting. We suspect that people simply don’t know how to go about doing it.
The Pride that Comes with Achievement
The moment you complete your first marathon, you know that you’ve done something truly transformative on a personal level. In that instant, the feeling of accomplishment is not derived from simply having finished the race. It comes from the weeks and months of training. It comes from knowing that you set a goal, then did what was necessary to achieve it. More than anything, it comes from knowing that you’ve changed your body and your mind for the better, and that the change allows you succeed where others would fail.
Think of it this way—if you’re capable of running a marathon, what other great things are you capable of mastering?
Taking All the Right Steps: a Few Marathon Training Tips for Success
If you’re mentally prepared to embark on a marathon, it’s time to prepare yourself physically. Here are a few marathon training tips you can do to maximize the effectiveness of your training:
1. Get motivation from others.
This can mean finding a running partner or group, or simply using an app or online forum to connect to other runners. Sometimes it can be difficult to self-motivate. Let others help cheer you along and do the same for them.
2. Train at marathon tempo.
Set a minutes-per-mile goal for your marathon, say eight or nine minutes per mile, then train at that speed. Some participants train significantly faster or slower than they will run on the actual race day, and this doesn’t provide a chance for your body to acclimate to the stresses and rate of energy consumption that it will endure during a marathon. So set a realistic pace and stick to it.
3. Train in conditions similar to the actual marathon.
This means trying out the shoes and clothes you will wear on race day, experimenting with pre-race meals, and even practicing water stops and getting your body used to taking in large quantities of water and carbohydrates. And if you’ll be running through a hilly city such as Seattle or Boston, make sure you practice running up and down a lot of hills.
4. Develop a proper marathon diet.
Carbohydrates are key to fueling your body over the course of a long run. Fuel up with roughly 45 grams of carbs an hour before starting. This is the equivalent of half a bagel with some jam. Then during your run, bring along something easy to carry and consume like nuts, raisins, sport (or jelly) beans, or specially formulated gels like Gu or Accelerade. Over the course of your training, you should try out different options and see what works best for your body.
5. Dress appropriately.
Make sure that you have shoes that your feet and shins won’t hate after five, ten, or twenty miles. Experiment with different clothing materials to find which will best suit the weather conditions you’ll be running in. You don’t want to be too hot or too cold. Runner’s World has a great online tool that advises you on running clothes based upon specific conditions.
6. Schedule time for rest.
Many who are new to running make the mistake or running every day. The fact is that your body needs time for rest and recovery. You should go at least one day a week without running at all. This prevents injury from over-exertion and allows your body to recover its energy stores. So don’t wear yourself out!
With the proper marathon training, you’ll be on your way to completing your first marathon. From there, who knows how your goals might evolve? Maybe you’ll go on to run a marathon in the 50 United States, or the 7 continents of the world—even Antarctica! Suddenly your fitness goals may be overlapping with your travel goals…
That’s the great thing about accomplishing goals—achievement tends to snowball.
Do you have any questions about marathon training? Or want to offer some advice? Comment below to have your questions answered or share your expertise.