Regardless of the motivation for running a marathon, running countless miles in one session is a physically taxing undertaking, and it’s not something to take lightly. The right training and preparation is necessary long before the starting gun is fired to even have a chance of finishing. With that in mind, here are some tips that will help the body get into marathon-ready shape.
Talk to a Doctor
Before embarking on any intensive physical fitness program, it’s a good idea to consult with a primary care physician. Only after given the ok should a marathon training routine be undertaken. This will help ensure the body is up to the task of something so physically demanding.
If the marathon is scheduled to take place in the near future, it may be wise to consider setting sights on next year’s marathon instead.
Most experts recommend that marathon runners condition themselves by running at least 20 miles per week for a year before undertaking a full marathon. This kind of preparation gives the body plenty of time to adjust to the rigors of running long distance.
Too Much, Too Soon
Being really excited about the prospect of completing a marathon can cause many to be tempted to dive headlong into an intensive training regimen. But don’t overdo it. Ramping up mileage too quickly increases the likelihood of burnout, and any marathon aspirations will be quelled long before the starting line is even approached.
The Cornerstones of Marathon Training
There are four main tenets of marathon training, and the first is base mileage. Aim to gradually increase weekly mileage in the year leading up to the marathon. Start at a comfortable but challenging level, and work up to 20-30 miles per week.
The second element of a successful marathon-training regimen is to gradually build up the body’s endurance. Make a goal to go for an extra-long run to push your limits once a week.
Third, work on cardiovascular health. In-addition to running, high intensity interval training can help build heart strength.
Finally, don’t forget to make time for rest. It’s important to let the body recover between workouts, or the risk of injury and burnout is greatly increased. It’s OK to stay active on rest days with a bit of swimming, cycling, or yoga, but be sure to give the running muscles a chance to rejuvenate.
Take a Test Run
You don’t have to run a full marathon as your first race, and there are plenty of shorter races that can test endurance. Before signing up for your first marathon, see how you fare in a 5k or 10k event.
A High-Performance Machine Needs Quality Fuel
Eating healthy is paramount to success when preparing for a marathon. But it certainly doesn’t hurt to augment diet with beneficial supplements.
For example, the super-carotenoid astaxanthin has been shown to scavenge cell-damaging free radicals, to decrease inflammation after intense exercise, and to reduce lactic acid buildups in muscle tissue. In practical terms, it helps endurance athletes recover more quickly, build stamina, and prevent post-run muscle and joint soreness.
Spirulina has benefits for runners, too. In a recent controlled study, this microalgae superfood was shown to raise fat oxidation rates, to lower carb oxidation rates, and to delay the onset of fatigue in runners.
Don’t Hit the Dreaded “Wall”; Jump Over It
Long distance runners can often reach a point where the body just can’t keep going. Avoid what is often referred to as “the wall,” by providing the body with the right tools for success. Don’t let the wall stop you from going the distance. With proper training and nutrition, it’s just a hurdle along the way.
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The information provided is for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified healthcare provider with any questions or concerns about your health. Check with your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice because of something you have heard or read in this article or the internet.