To be able to finish a marathon is quite a feat, especially if you’re a beginner. This is a quick guide to planning a marathon training schedule for beginners who want to add their names among those distinguished few, marathon runners.
First step should be to download my free Guide to Marathon Training. I’ve spent hundreds of hours packing this guide with exactly what you need to know about starting out with your marathon. Just add you email below and I’ll send it to you right away.
Get Started: Motivation
Preparing for a marathon is the first and most important step. During the many weeks of training, you need to develop motivation and an iron-will along with building stamina. The key is to remain motivated, to build the right mindset and to visualize the goal with every step.
Charity marathons are a great way of motivating oneself, as your support for the cause and the sense of obligation you feel to your charity will help you in your training regimen.
By choosing a significant cause that is close to your heart, you can fight your way through the hardest of training schedules, as you will be putting in all of your efforts into supporting people in need.
Get Started: The Right Gear
While this pair of sneakers may not make you faster than that pair, the right shoes will ensure that you’re comfortable during the long hours of training and help avoid injury.
You need to invest in good running shoes and as you’ll have to replace your shoes every 400-500 miles, you might think about buying a second pair of your favourite shoes and alternate between the two. Most importantly, don’t try anything new too close to the race day. Give yourself plenty of time to wear in new shoes.
Tips for Training
Marathon training is demanding on new runners. Beginners should first get used to running non-stop for at least 30 minutes – by combining run/walk/run techniques until you are able to comfortably run without stopping. To minimize the risk of injury, new runners should not start training for a marathon until they have several months of running behind them. Here are some basic tips to bear in mind:
- Don’t over-strain yourself. Many beginners get carried away with their new running training and feel that they need to push themselves from the very start. This is not the right way of going about training and can (in fact, likely will) lead to injuries.
- Build up the training distance slowly. A general rule is that you shouldn’t increase your distance by 10% in any week. Also, build recovery weeks into your training where you reduce the intensity of your training for a few days to give your body time to recover and strengthen.
- Take notes. Track your training progress in a runners log or by following a structured training program. This has two benefits: it keeps you motivated and reduces the chance of you over-training and suffering injury.
- Phone a fried. Many beginners find that running with a friend helps them get through the first weeks of training. Having company when you run is great to keep you motivated and fight off boredom. Just make sure you run at your own pace rather than theirs.
- Rest, Rest, Rest. You don’t need to run everyday of the week. In fact at the beginning of your training you should follow an “off/on/off” daily training routine. Even once you are out of the beginner category you should still stick to the “easy/hard/easy” routine. In any event, you should incorporate one complete Rest and Recovery day into your weekly training.
Hydration and Nutrition – Tips
It is really important to eat a well-balanced diet and drink sufficient water and sports drinks during your training. During the grueling training period, your body needs the right fuel to keep it going. The consumption of protein, carbohydrates and good fats is very important. As a rough breakdown, during training, your diet should consist of 65% carbohydrates, 10% proteins and 25% of unsaturated fats.
Great sources of carbohydrates include: rice, whole grain breads, pasta, vegetables and beans. Proteins include lean red meat, chicken and fish. For good fats look towards nuts, fish (fish oil in particular) and some dairy produts. By maintaining a good diet, you will ensure your body has sufficient energy to get through the marathon.
A week before the race, runners should increase the intake of complex carbohydrates from 65% to 70%. This practice is called “carbohydrate loading”. Carbohydrates are broken down into glycogen, which is stored in the muscles and is the important source of energy during the race.
Hydration is very important during training and the race itself; so get used to carrying lots of fluids and try to drink around 8 ounces of fluid every 20 minutes or so.
A good way of keeping the fluid level in check during your training sessions is by weighing yourself before and after running. Any weight loss is due to dehydration – a sign that you need to replenish your fluid levels.
Recovery and Prevention of Injury
Rest and recovery periods during your training are just as important as the training itself. This way your body gets a chance to recover, lessening the chances of injury and allowing it to grow stronger. Avoid running everyday and take off at least one day a week (more if you are a beginner runner).
You need to pay attention to how your body feels. If you feel pain or fatigue you should rest and not push yourself through the pain. It’s when you fail to read the signs your body is giving that injuries take place.
Finishing a marathon is an extremely rewarding experience and the satisfaction you will get is like nothing else. First time runners need to train properly and sensibly to aviod injury and get to the finish line. Focus on your diet, progressive training and following a structured training program. If you do that, you’ll be in great shape.