10 Essential Marathon Training Tips

by Graeme Hilditch

Start early

Many marathon training plans you’ll read in magazines and books suggest that 16 weeks is a good length of time in order to prepare for a marathon.

Although this might be an ideal time frame if you are already a seasoned runner, if you are a beginner, 16 weeks is not really long enough.

To be on the safe side, you should really be looking at giving yourself at least 6 months to prepare, so you can get your leg muscles and tendons conditioned to the demands of long distance running.

There’s no need to stress if you haven’t started training sooner than you had hoped, just remember to take your time and build up your miles slowly.

Get your gait analysed

It is essential to get your running gait analysed before you start clocking up the miles. Most reputable running shoes stores will analyse your running gait for free and recommend the most suitable running shoes for your feet.

Once you know which shoes you can run in, all that’s left is to choose brand that you can rely on to see you through your training.

Brooks Running manufacture exceptionally high quality running shoes and they are a brand which most regular marathon runners put their trust in. From the forever popular Brooks “GTS” to the best neutral shoe on the market, the Brooks “Ghost 8’s,” there is a Brooks running shoe out there for you.

So, get yourself down to you local Up and Running store and find the right shoes for you.

Take it easy

Unsurprisingly, the phrase “it’s a marathon not a sprint” could not be more appropriate for marathon training. Approach your weekly training schedule with a relaxed frame of mind and try to resist the temptation to break Personal Bests. When it comes to endurance training, “less” is sometimes “more” so when your training programme tells you to head out for an easy/gentle run – do just that.

Don’t forget Protein

Most people associate the diet of a marathon runner with high quantities of carbohydrate based food such as pasta, rice and potatoes due to the energy that these foods give to the body to sustain long periods of running. However, far too many runners neglect the importance of protein in their diets, a deficiency of which can lead to poor recovery after training, frequent colds and a general of a lack energy. Try to eat around 1.2 grams of protein per Kg of bodyweight every day to meet your dietary protein requirements.

Don’t go carb crazy

Carbohydrate rich foods are of course essential for any marathon runner in training, especially in the weeks leading up to the race, but try to avoid going overboard in the early stages of training. Many runners are confused when they find they are putting on weight in the early stages of training – but the answer is often because of the false belief that every meal should feature large quantities of carbohydrate. Eat a normal diet for at least the first half your training before you start thinking about eating excessively high quantities of carbohydrate rich foods.

Nip niggles in the bud

Unless you are very lucky, at some stage during your training you’ll pick up an injury of some sort. Although many injuries are minor and don’t cause you too much discomfort, some are more serious and will need to be treated. Every year, runners ignore the early warning signs of injuries and push through a forever increasing pain barrier in the vain hope that the injury will “sort itself out.” Do not ignore injuries that do not get any better and/or get increasingly worse. Seek professional advice early on and you’ll be amazed at how quickly injuries can be cured with a few simple stretches, exercises and a few days off running.

Do what works for you

Although there are some excellent books and magazine articles available to buy which offer excellent marathon training advice, always remember that this advice is generic and may not necessarily apply to you and your physiology. We all respond to training differently, so if you find certain suggested sessions do not give you results then do not be afraid to listen to your body and do what suits you.

Wear the right training kit

Although there is no need to go over-board on top of the range running clothes, you’ll always regret opting for cheap running clothes, particularly when your weekly mileage starts to build. Cheap cotton tops and poorly fitted running trousers can cause irritation, chaffing and make for a very uncomfortable run. Leading brands such as Brooks have a wide range of advance training kit which suit all budgets, so take a look and find something that will suit your fashion, training and financial needs!

Be realistic with your goals

Training for a marathon is hard. With so many potential obstacles in your way such as injury, illness, work and family commitments it is so important that you are realistic about your marathon goals. By all means set yourself a “sub 4 or 5 hour” goal, but be realistic and if your training is hampered by a series of life’s obstacles, do not think you’re a failure if you have to adjust your target. Remember, there are plenty of other marathons out there to run, so if you miss out on your goal this time round, look at it as a practice run for your next marathon.

Run Happy and Enjoy

Last but certainly not least, it is so important to enjoy your training and the whole marathon experience. The more relaxed you are during your training, the more relaxed you will be on the day of the race, making the entire 26.2 mile, experience a far more enjoyable one and one which you’ll far more likely jump at the chance to do again. So remember – relax, enjoy and Run Happy!

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