Whether you’re in shape or not, a marathon is not something to be taken lightly. Running 26.2 miles (13.1 for half marathon) takes a huge toll on the body, and should really be considered an extreme sport that requires advanced training and experience.
When approaching your run it’s important to take an accurate assessment of your current fitness level and then determine what work needs to be done to get you up to speed. This way you can understand your strengths and also what may slow you down. After this you can begin to map out your own individual training plan that will prepare you for race day.
In this article we’ll discuss the training you’ll need to get in shape as well as other important factors such as nutrition and planning. Use this as a guide, but of course don’t hesitate to contact a professional if you need extra help.
Buy the right equipment
When you go for a 20 minute run down the street your equipment doesn’t really matter all that much – you can practically wear any type of sports shoe and clothing type you want without any problems. However, when we talk about running for hours, the shoes, shorts, and other articles of clothing you wear become very important.
The two pieces of equipment you want to get are running shoes and comfortable runners’ clothing. When it comes to either of these items, skimping on the good stuff is never a good idea if you want to be safe and comfortable out there.
In terms of shoes, the best thing to do is to visit your local sports store and try on a bunch of different running shoes to find the one that works for your foot. Everyone’s feet are different, and you should buy the shoes that match your foot type and stride pattern. Also, make sure that there is optimal distance between your big toe and the front of the shoe. Bear in mind, shoes lose their shock-absorbency after about 350 miles of running, so make sure you’re changing your shoes every four to eight months to prevent injury.
Proper clothing is another important aspect of the marathon runner’s toolkit. If you watch a marathon on TV or have ever seen runners go by, you’ll notice that they tend to wear tighter-fitting clothes that are made out of non-traditional materials. The reason for this is twofold – aerodynamic efficiency and sweat reduction. When you go to buy running clothes, make sure to get form-fitting apparel that is made out of non-cotton materials. Cotton is a terrible fabric to run in, as it absorbs sweat and will weigh you down. You’ll be much more efficient and comfortable if you wear clothing that wicks away sweat and keeps you dry.
Get started slowly
If you’re a novice and just starting out with the sport, it is recommended that you allow yourself about five to six months to train for the event. A general benchmark you can use to determine how much training you need is to take a run outside right now. If you can comfortably handle running non-stop for 30 minutes or more, you’ll likely be able to handle a shorter training program. However, if you are having trouble, don’t fret – you’ll get there, you just need a bit more time.
Remember, a marathon is mostly about endurance, and the best way to build that up is to slowly increase your running time gradually. Start yourself off slowly, therefore giving yourself daily goals and victories that will increase your confidence and get you mentally prepared.
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