What to Really Prepare for During Marathon Training
Minus the Running Part
To date, I’ve run 3 full-marathons and 4 half-marathons. And in complete honesty, I have to admit that it does not get easier after each one. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
In my first marathon, I did far better than I anticipated. I finished in a time of 4:07 while still feeling like I could have ran a few more miles and shaved off some extra minutes.
I was so proud.
At that point, I had already run 2 half-marathons, so I was no stranger to training for a long distance race. But the time and effort required for a full is a much longer, far more difficult process.
Having already done one, I assumed that I could breeze through the next one. I thought I could cut myself some slack and not put as much effort into training the second time around because I already had the experience.
I was very wrong.
You need to work just as hard, if not harder, for every race because each one is unique. You have to put on your A-game and give it everything you’ve got. And in doing so, you need to respect the process of training — because you never know what can happen during 26.2 miles and you need to best prepare yourself for what is yet to come.
Put in serious time
Anything worth doing means doing it the right way. And that sometimes means sacrificing a few things such as your social life, late night outings, weekends, and down time.
Marathon training takes up a lot of hours in your week, but that’s the price you have to pay if you want to do well.
Fuel yourself properly
Like gas to a car, we need to keep the tank full. And not only do we need to keep it full, we also need to be mindful of exactly what we are putting in the tank.
The physical training part is only half the battle. What you eat is just as important. Make sure you are getting enough calories, staying away from the fast food and unhealthy snacks, and staying hydrated.
Say NO to late-night drinks
You don’t need to quit cold-turkey and stop drinking all together. There’s nothing wrong with a glass of wine or a beer here and there. But, stay away from the late-night benders every weekend.
Your weekends are meant for long runs and recovery and you can’t do that if you are pouring drinks down your throat right before waking up for a 12-mile run the next day.
Get your eight hours
Sleep is crucial towards performance — not only in running, but in life in general. Get your recommended eight hours of sleep consistently each night so you are well-rested, recovering, and ready for your next miles.
Start waking up earlier
We only have twenty-four hours in a day, so if eight of those hours includes sleep, and eight of those hours includes going to work, then that doesn’t leave you with much room to do all the other things you need to get done — But you can. And waking up early helps remedy that.
Waking up early can help tackle the tasks you likely won’t get to by the time you get home. Make time for running or else it won’t get done.
Running on its own will get you to the finish line, but it’s not the only exercise you should be doing. And it’s not the only thing that will make you run a great race. Cross-training is crucial.
Do yoga, lift weights, swim, bike, stretch. Change it up so that you are giving all of your muscles the time they deserve. It will make you stronger in the long run (no pun intended).
Stick to your plan
It’s very important that you actually pick a plan or at least create one yourself. If you don’t have a schedule, then you are susceptible to missing days or losing track of where you are in your training.
Whether it’s a running app, an online training plan, or a plan from a book, make sure you are sticking to it.
Manage your expectations
Again, anything can happen in 26.2 miles. You can hit a wall, cramp up, or get hurt. Or quite the opposite — you can feel great, find your rhythm, and run the best race of your life. But no matter what happens, manage your expectations. Don’t beat yourself up if it doesn’t go exactly how you planned.
Go easy on yourself if you don’t PR, or if you were a few minutes off of your goal time.
Be proud that you finished. Be proud that you even had the courage to start at all.
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