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Learn how to eat

It should go without saying that the better you eat, the better you will perform on race day. You’ll find that to achieve peak performance, you will likely be eating very differently than you were before you started training.

Firstly we should discuss carbohydrates, since they are essentially what will power you through the run. Carbohydrates are complex sugars that get stored in your muscles as glycogen, and are used to contract muscle groups during exercise. Contrary to popular thought, carbs are good for you, and eating a generous amount of these per day is necessary to keep you in running shape. The key is to eat “good” carbs – i.e. unprocessed and natural carbs. A few good examples include potatoes, yams, peas, beans, bananas, wheat bread, macaroni, spaghetti, bagels, apples, raisins, cereals, syrup, brown rice, corn, apples, carrots, and root vegetables.

Unlike your normal eating routine, you should get in the habit of eating foods rich in carbohydrates before, during, and after your workouts. This will help you to avoid fatigue and keep you from burning protein as your body runs out of other energy sources.

Apart from carbs, your body will also need protein as you train. Especially at the beginning of your running career, you will be building and strengthening many muscle groups throughout your body, which will strain the tissue and cause damage. As a result, make sure that you eat foods that contain protein throughout your training cycle to ensure that you are giving your muscles what they need to strengthen. Foods high in protein include fish, lean meats, some shellfish including lobster and crab, and legume vegetables such as lentils and peas.

Make a schedule

For the majority of us, having a goal in mind can be very motivating. When preparing for a marathon, it may be a good idea to pick an event and plan out on a calendar your training and rest days, as well as when the race will take place. This way you will have something to work towards as you train.

The standard length of training for the majority of marathon runners is about 16 weeks, so plan for this while deciding when you should run your event. In terms of your training schedule, experts recommend that you should run four days out of every week leading up to the marathon, with a gap day for rest in between every two consecutive running days. Holding yourself accountable to this will motivate you and keep you focused on your goals.

Build mental stamina

Running for hours is an extremely challenging feat both physically and mentally. Getting the mileage down is one part, but to really succeed on race day requires mental focus and determination.

There is no cut and dry way that works for everyone but there are a few tips that may help. First, stick to your training schedule. As you accomplish what you set out to do, you will feel encouraged and motivated to continue. If you start missing days and making excuses, you will likely end up feeling disappointed with yourself, which will hurt your progress.

Secondly, block out negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones. When you start to get tired and feel like giving up, tell yourself out loud that you feel strong and full of energy. Your mind can often be your enemy, and taking a few moments to reaffirm yourself may be just what you need.

Lastly, try to have fun. Training and running the race are a lot of work, but if you try your best to enjoy what you’re doing, you will be much more likely to have a good experience.

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