For first-timers, running a marathon can seem like a daunting task. More often than not, we feel like it is something that is just way out of our league and let’s face it, 42km of running doesn’t appeal to many people. However, with enough preparation time and the mental power to finish, just about anyone can run a marathon. So for those who are just starting out and looking to run their first marathon, here are our top tips on your road to success.
Give yourself plenty of time to train
The more preparation time you have, the more comfortable and confident you will feel on the day and during the lead-up. Try and allow yourself 12 months to prepare and give yourself the time to scale up your running slowly. Start with a goal of running 5km, and then 6km, and then 7km and so on. This natural progression strategy will not only make it more achievable to attain your goals, but also reduce the risk of injury.
Find the right training plan for you
There are a lot of training plans out there all suited for different people based on different personal preference. One of the biggest mistakes a first-time runner can make is choosing a training plan that is too advanced for them or not suited to their lifestyle or fitness level. Take the time to find a training plan that works for you and don’t be scared to modify it to suit your life. If you need an extra rest day or to change your routine, do it. Listen to your body and train accordingly.
Schedule training into your life
Most of us lead busy lives with full-time jobs, studies, family and social commitments along with a raft of other activities and never-ending to-do lists. It’s no surprise when something needs to be cut from the day’s plans, it’s often exercising. To avoid this trap, make sure to schedule your training activity in and hold yourself accountable.
As you start getting more confident and consistent with your running and fitness level, it can be tempting to push yourself to new levels and achieve better results faster. Avoid these temptations and you’ll avoid an injury that’s waiting to happen. Stick to your plan to avoid pushing yourself to your limits and give yourself the rest you need.
Strength training is just as important as your running schedule
Whilst improving your running distance feels like the most important thing to do, don’t undermine the importance of strength training. Learning proper glute activation for any hills on the course will allow you to expend far less energy than if you were powering through with your calves, while lateral movements will help strengthen your hip and knee stabilizer muscles.
Find the right shoes well before marathon day
We are all guilty of keeping our joggers for years. So whilst it might feel good to run in your old joggers that you used to mow the lawn in for your first run, we can guarantee by run five or six your feet and legs will start to feel the ramifications. Do yourself a favour and find some proper running shoes that are suited for your feet and movement. We always recommend going into a store where you can try them on and talk to an expert about what will work for you.
Following trends blindly
The running world is full of new trends and latest gadgets and programs to help you push yourself to new limits. Don’t blindly get sucked into them thinking they will work for you. Stick to the basics and focus on what works for you, not what works for someone else.
Figure out your running nutrition
Getting the right fuel is just as important as getting in the miles. Use your runs to figure out what nutrition works best for you, both before the run, during and after. A lot of this process will be trial and error, so it’s best to start early, even if it is for your shorter runs.
When running the marathon, you will need to have a plan for how you will stay hydrated and keep yourself fuelled during the race, so head to a fitness shop and try some of the products to see what’s right for you.
It will be hard and when times are rough, remember the why
Accomplishing a marathon is physically, mentally and emotionally challenging however the sense of pride and accomplishment when finishing it is priceless. Throughout your training journey, there will most likely be times of hardship, defeat and a will to give up. However, it is important to push past these mental barriers and remind yourself of why you wanted to do this in the first place. For some, it might be an opportunity to prove yourself or test your limits. For others, it might be to lose weight, improve fitness or raise awareness for a charity or loved one. Whatever your reason is, utilise this reason to motivate and encourage yourself to keep going.
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