Over one million people around the world complete a marathon every year.
For some people, long-distance running is as natural as breathing and a lifelong passion. For others, it’s a bucket list challenge that they want to prove they can achieve. And other people want to get fit, so signing up for a marathon is the motivation they need to do it.
But to run a marathon, you need to prepare for a marathon in the proper way. If you don’t, you might cause yourself more injury in the long run.
So, what is the right way to prepare? This step-by-step marathon preparation guide will tell you exactly what you need to do, so you can cross the finish line in record time!
Step 1: Sign Up for a Marathon
Sounds obvious, right? Well, you don’t need to sign up for an official marathon race to run one. A marathon is 26.2 miles, and you can run that wherever you like.
But signing up for a marathon gives you a deadline and will push you into starting your marathon preparation sooner rather than later. It also means you will get a medal at the end, too.
Depending on your existing fitness levels, sign up for a marathon no later than 16-24 weeks beforehand.
Step 2: Visit a Medical Professional
If you are a healthy, fit person with no existing medical conditions, then you might not need a physical before you prepare for a marathon.
But if you are overweight or have an old injury, you should seek medical advice before embarking on a training program.
And you do not need to visit your GP. There are clinics with specialist sports physical exams that will be able to give you advice tailored to your fitness goals.
Step 3: Learn How to Stretch
You have to learn to walk before you can run. But since you’ve likely nailed walking already, learning to stretch is also vital before you can run.
Start with a slow jog (on the spot) for 30 to 60 seconds. Then, stretch for around five minutes before every single practice run. You need to stretch your whole body, not only your legs.
Here are some ideas for stretches:
- Standing hip controlled articular rotation (five to ten times both sides)
- Lunges with a side twist (hold for five seconds and repeat on both sides)
- Standing dynamic hamstring stretch (hold for five seconds and repeat on both sides)
You can stretch your arms across your body and hold them with your other arm while doing your lunges. Try bending over and touching your toes, and hold that position for a few seconds, too.
Step 4: Prepare an Exercise Schedule
One of the most important marathon preparation tips is to build up your running distance in a gradual, sustainable way.
If you are starting from scratch, consider downloading an app to get you to run a 5k or 10k without stopping, first. Nike Run Club and Stride both have great training programs for beginners.
Research running clubs in your area or find a running buddy to train with. You are more likely to stick with your schedule if you have support.
Schedule one long run a week. It should be around 10 to 11 miles at first, then 20 to 22 miles by the end. Break these up with two to three shorter runs of around three to four miles, then seven to eight miles at the end.
Always give yourself at least one day off (two is preferable) for your body to recover. Treat yourself with sports massages now and again and take relaxing baths to soothe your aching muscles.
While preparing for a marathon, it is inevitable you will strain a muscle at some point. Don’t beat yourself up and take time off to heal.
Step 5: Prepare an Eating Plan
It should come as no surprise that to have the energy to exercise a lot, you need to eat right. Most runners should add around 100 calories to their diet for every mile they run.
During your training, most of your diet should be carbohydrates, like potatoes, bread, pasta, and fruit. You should also eat plenty of protein found in chicken, eggs, and fish to repair and grow your muscles.
Long-distance running can be tough on your bones. Look after them by consuming calcium found in broccoli, milk, cottage cheese, and salmon.
Step 6: Start Running
One of the best pieces of marathon preparation advice? Start running today! Yes, today!
The longer you put off starting your training program, the harder it will be. Push through your mental blocks and take it one step at a time (pun intended).
Step 7: Incorporate Other Exercises
Running too much can put unnecessary strain on the same body parts. It might sound counterintuitive, but some of your training days should focus on non-running exercises.
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Starting with one day a week, do yoga, swimming, and/or weightlifting instead of going for a run. Then, as you progress, increase this number to two or three.
Step 8: Invest in the Right Gear
Not having the most high-tech athletic gear should not stop you from starting your marathon preparation. In the beginning, all you need is comfortable clothing and sneakers.
But as you progress, you will need to invest in the right clothes, so you do not chafe or cause an injury.
Choose loose or tight-fitting t-shirts/tank tops for your top half, made from a sweat-wicking material. On your bottom half, opt for athletic shorts or tight-fitting leggings.
Buy proper running shoes that are lightweight, spongy, and airy. They should feel a little bouncy and be as comfortable as a second skin.
Grab a yoga mat for your stretches and a muscle roller for your cooldowns. Runner’s waist belts are great for keeping your essentials safe (like your phone, keys, and sports gels) while you run.
How to Prepare for a Marathon in Eight Simple Steps
Figuring out how to prepare for a marathon is simple, but it’s not easy. You still need to make time to run almost every day for weeks on end.
But once you cross the finish line with your hands in the air, all your hard work will be worth it.
Running a marathon demands a complete lifestyle overhaul. Lucky for you, our website has tons of diet, fitness, and wellbeing tips to help you reach your goals. Browse our articles to find the expert advice you need!