Beginners Marathon (Running) Training Race Guide
Running 26.2miles is a long way yet something, with some good planning in advance, commitment, focus and self belief is totally possible and one of the most rewarding physical challenges you can do.
The London Marathon is one of the biggest and most popular marathons in the World, attracting many first time runners. The support is amazing with crowds lining the streets all the way, and always someone beside you to keep you going. Often you will find yourself running next to a giant bear or man in a sumo suit, hundreds of charity runners and then those speedy club runners – plus of course, the odd celebrity dotted amongst everyone else.
Yet there are many races throughout the UK, and abroad, from small local races through country lanes to bigger races like New York City. These all require early entry, and are often against a ballot, or through a charity place.
So take a little bit of time to look up a few marathons, and get entered up for your very first marathon….. Good Luck and Enjoy the training and race day.
Give yourself plenty of time to train – at least nine months if you are new to running, and plan a couple of 5km, 10km and a half marathons to keep you motivated.
Make sure you have easy weeks in your training cycles to allow your body to adapt and recover, plus add variety to what you are doing.
If you don’t feel well make sure you reduce your training until you feel better. If you feel any niggles get them checked out immediately, never run through.
Gain the support of friends and family to help support you, and keep you on track.
Get some expert advice and a training plan devised specifically for your fitness, lifestyle and enjoyment. Get some good core and strength included once a week – it really makes the difference.
Write down all the things you will gain from achieving the marathon, and how you will feel. Make this into a big picture board and this will help keep you on track.
If you are running for a charity, choose one that has a personal meaning to you – it will make it easier to fundraise and more rewarding.
The golden rules I have found over the years of training people to avoid injury are… consistent training, with gradual increase in volume and speed – combined with proper rest periods, good quality trainers, healthy good food and lots of sleep!
Plus listen to your body and how it feels – if you feel good train hard, if you feel tired adapt your sessions and have an easier one, and if you feel unwell swap a rest day and get an early night.
Pick your Race
Make sure you choose a marathon that works for you – so if you enter London lots of your training will be done when it is cold, wet and dark. Some of your training can be done on a treadmill, but ultimately you need to train on the surface you are going to run on, to get your muscles, joints and ligaments used to the surface and reduce the risk of injury.
If you choose a late summer marathon, lots of your training could be in the heat, and if you suffer from hay fever this may not work well. Also consider how you are going to get to race, hotel accommodation, flights and time difference (if abroad) and most importantly how you are going to get home at the end of the race!
Then decide what works best for your lifestyle, how your body responds to different conditions, if you would like lots of crowds or a quiet race and then spend a little bit of time looking at different races and choose the best race!
What you Need to get started …..
A good training plan – ideally with structured 4-6 week cycles on endurance, strength, speed, recovery and tapering. This will add interest, motivation and allow you to be in your best condition on race day.
A couple of pairs of good quality trainers – get yourself to a shop that offers a foot scan so you can choose a pair of shoes that support the way you run.
Breathable clothing, socks, wind proof and water proof fitted running clothing – most on line shops do great deals for end of season ranges.
Reflective out layer is essential in the winter months, and highly recommended all year round for your safety.
Lots of energy, commitment and support
Fuel it Up
Nutrition is one of the keys to getting to the start line feeling fit and well. It is key to give you the energy for long training sessions, even if you are trying to lose a little weight – and it is key to good recovery. The basics are a good guide, always have breakfast, lunch and dinner – plus a couple of snacks if you are hungry.
Try to make sure you eat as much freshly cooked, locally sourced foods with a balance of proteins, carbs and good fats. Avoid the sugars, processed foods and diet options if possible – the best way to do this is good planning of your meals, especially if you are travelling.
Hydration is key also and not just water. When you sweat you lose electrolytes so it is really important to make sure you re hydrate. Pure Energy and Active Woman Revitalise are brilliant, both naturally low in sugar.
To find out your water requirements divide your bodyweight in kg by 0.033 – this will give you the minimum amount your bodyweight needs …. Then add 500ml per 90mins of exercise minimum.
Extra Things you could have or do….
Heart Rate Monitor – to record how hard you are working – ask an Expert to help you work out your average heart rate training zones to make your sessions even more effective.
Compression Tights & Tops – scientific research suggests that they aid in the reduction and removal of lactic acid, help support the joints, reduce the risk of injury and improve performance. Worn after training sessions, and by many during training – especially the calve guards and full leggings during the winter months.
I-pod – music is proven to help increase your motivation, duration of training and enjoyment. So get a running mix uploaded, change it every few weeks and enjoy your training. Do be aware that some races no longer allow competitors to run with music, so check you can if you do all your training with music… get free music with Bio-Synergy.
It is often considered that a marathon is completed, based on consistent training and strong positive self belief.
Start to visualise yourself doing the training, and getting fitter and stronger each week. Write down a plan of things to do to help keep you on track if you lose motivation, or miss a week’s training. Then write down all the things you would like to see, feel and hear as you do the race. Any limiting thoughts you have, write them down and then create mini strategies to overcome then easily.
Finally, write down how you will feel when you have completed the marathon and what it will mean to you – by being really clear on the outcome, you will make it happen.
What to wear and do on race day…
Plan the day well in advance, get plenty of sleep the week before and eat good quality foods.
A pair of trainers you have run in for at least four weeks, but not over 6 months ideally.
Clothing that you have tried and tested and know is comfortable.
A couple of options depending on the weather conditions.
Sunglasses and a hat – especially if you are prone to heat stroke
Vaseline to avoid any chaffing on the nipples, underarm, in-between the legs and heels.
Sun cream even if it is not that hot – you would be surprised how easy it is to burn.
Eat what you usually eat for a longer run at least 2 hours before the start, then only take gels and drinks that you are used to so you have no stomach worries.
Stay fully hydrated – especially if hot.
Believe that you can do it – enjoy your training, listen to your body and have fun.
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