Running a marathon is an enjoyable sport for people from all walks of life and for people who are already fit and willing to undergo rigorous training, a marathon is an achievement/goal one can work toward. For first timers running a marathon can be a daunting experience, but with the right kind of motivation, planning, and training it can be a fun and achievable goal.
While you put in your hours and weeks into training it is important to keep in mind key factors and elements that will make your run an easier affair. If you’re a first time runner then the best way to go about it is to set goals/targets and work your way towards them (for eg: aiming for the 10Km run), for seasoned runners it goes without out saying the goal is to run a longer distance or a particular distance in a better time.
Through the rest of the article, we will provide you with certain tips and take you through certain key areas of focus that you need to keep in mind while preparing for your big day.
This is the period wherein you try and find your best fit and combination of things that will help you bring out your best performance on D-Day.
Clothing, Equipment, & Gear- Make sure you are running in an outfit that fits well and is comfortable. Pick one and stick to it through your training and on the day of the marathon. The same follows for your shoes, you don’t want to an uncomfortable feeling halfway through your run and realizing that your new set of trainers are causing you more harm than good.
Long runs to build distance- During training vary your runs with short and long distance runs. Long distance runs help you build your endurance and stamina and also assist you to judge and keep track of the pace you need to maintain that will help you go the distance on marathon day.
Track Training and Timing- Always track your runs and make notes; it will benefit you in gauging what works for you and what doesn’t. Keep track of your timing that will tell you the progress you have made and help to set further goals and also serve as motivation to do better.
Routine- Take this time of training to formulate a routine, things like whether you like to run with music or without, whether you prefer the mornings to the evenings, or what food works for you before the race. Things like these shouldn’t be left for the day of the run and should be planned in advance. Also, mix things up during this period: try different kinds of music that will help you boost motivation, different kinds of foods and different times of running, too.
Food & Hydration- The most important thing while running marathons and long distance runs is how you fuel your body. This, of course, varies from person to person: some like to eat well to last the distance while some prefer to go light on the tummy so as to not feel very heavy. Things like fruits (bananas, apples) and electrolyte-based drinks serve as good options to have before the marathon. Loading in on the carbs and good fat makes for a perfect meal before a run as it provides the body with ample fuel to burn.
Rehearsal- Once you have worked out all your essentials and got all your basics in place try and run one or two of your long distance runs on the actual track of the marathon. Familiarizing yourself with the track helps you mentally prepare for what is in store for you.
It’s finally here, the moment you have been waiting for. Don’t try something that is new and not practiced before, stick to what you have practiced in training and have a good time.
Be Early- Arrive for your race at least 30 minutes prior, remember there will be thousands of people all over the place and you don’t want to be stuck in the middle trying to make your way to the flag off point. Panicking to reach there and losing concentration is the last thing you want before the marathon begins.
Warm-Up- Marathons are usually in the wee hours of the morning or, at least, you have to wake up by then to reach the race, which means your body will be cold and stiff when you wake up. So do your stretches and warm up exercises before you begin your run to avoid cramps or any other form of injuries.
Hydrate- Hydration during/before the marathon is key, the water/juice/drink will replenish your body with the fuel you need to push yourself further. But make sure you hydrate yourself in right quantitates and at the right time to maintain that balance in the body. Dehydration is a runner’s worst enemy.
Maintain Concentration and Keep Rhythm: Once you begin your race concentrate on your run and keep your mind focused and not what others are doing. Avoid a lot of stoppages and distractions. Maintain a steady rhythm and pace while running, stick to what you were used to while training.
Have FUN- Enjoy every moment of your race, even when you’re in pain, remember it will be over soon and you will be happy that you did it. Especially the ones running for the first time, you will never have that experience of running your first race ever again.
Post – Marathon
Well, you have done it all your pain and trouble has paid off. Once you finish your race it is ideal to put on something warm like a jacket or sweatshirt to prevent your body temperature from dropping drastically. Drink some water or an energy drink; let your body get back to a normal state before you eat anything (start off with something light and easy on the stomach like a fruit). Take the remainder of the day to rest and recover and give your body ample time before get back on track.
It is advisable to take a break of around 3-6 weeks before running your next marathon depending on the distance to plan to cover.
Chintan Bhiwandkar, Football loving, book reading, and constantly running insomniac. Hopes to build an army of pandas to take over the world one day.