More and more people are getting into long distance races or marathons. Others advance to trail running, mountain running, fell running, or triathlon. If you’re new to running, you should stick to marathons for the time-being. To prepare for a marathon, especially if it’s your first, you should keep the helpful tips below in mind.
Know Your Limits
Just because you can jog for an hour or so, doesn’t mean you’re ready for your first marathon. Beginners should try the 5K marathon first before moving on to longer races. If you’re a regular jogger, this shouldn’t be a problem. The 5K marathon is only 3.1 miles long, which is the equivalent to 12.5 laps on a standard outdoor track.
Those who are just starting on their running journey shouldn’t rush to their first 5K marathon. It takes a physically fit body and the right mentally to finish a long distance race. So know your limits and work on the things that you need to work on.
Choose the Right Training Plan
Alexander Graham Bell once said, “Before anything else, preparation is the key to success.” Based on Bell’s success as an inventor, we should definitely put premium on planning.
According to Active, a proper plan involves your background as a runner. This should take into account the running level you are at now. Based on this, the running coach, if you have one, will devise a training plan that will help you build up gradually until you’re physically and mentally ready for the demands of the race.
Don’t Rush It
There are runners that start late in training for a marathon. That means they run more and more as the day of the race nears. This is a recipe for disaster. The more mileage you build at a fast rate, the more likely that you’ll injure yourself.
The correct way to prepare for a marathon is to be consistent. Start practicing at least four months before a marathon. Ideally, you should already be running regularly to keep your body in shape. And once you decide to join a marathon, that’s when you gradually build your weekly mileage.
Start At Home
One tip that first-time marathon runners should consider is choosing a race close to home. One advantage of having a “home field advantage,” as Rei.com put it, is that you’re more likely familiar with the route. Also, there’ll be more family and friends to motivate and cheer before and during the race.
Let Your Body Recover
Don’t push your body to the limit. It needs to recover after every run. A day of rest will allow the muscles to recover.
If you don’t feel like being idle or doing nothing at all during rest days, you can do some light exercises instead. Go for a walk, swim, or do yoga. Any cross-training exercise that’s not as rigorous as your normal training is okay while your muscles are recovering.
Get enough rest as the day of the marathon approaches. Lessen your mileage two or three weeks before the big event.
Refuel the Right Way
After using up all that energy in a run, you will be hungry. The body will need to refuel. However, you can’t just eat anything.
The proper way to refuel is to eat a meal that has three times more protein than carbohydrates. This doesn’t mean you can eat one whole bowl of pasta and three slabs of steak. You still need to eat the right amount but in the correct ratio.
It’s important to follow this protein to carbohydrate ratio since the body needs more protein for the muscles to heal faster. Carbs, meanwhile, help the body recover faster by restocking glycogen in the muscles. Still, you must keep your carbs intake in check.
According to study, low carb diet burns more calories. There are lots of other studies that agree with this one though there are some that says otherwise. What you need to do is find the right diet suited for your goal of preparing for a marathon.
Another trick of the trade is to refuel at the right time. After training, you have 30 minutes to eat for your body to fully utilize the protein and carbs.
Don’t forget to hydrate as you prepare for a marathon. You’re not likely to experience dangerous levels of dehydration while training for a marathon but the lack of water will make you feel uneasy. Podium Runner explains that sweating decreases blood volume, which makes the heart work double time to bring oxygen to the muscles.
While that isn’t as deadly as it sounds, the discomfort will not be good for your training. Normally, you’ll get a headache if you don’t have enough fluids. You don’t have the luxury of water stations during your practice runs so you need to bring your own water.
Be wary of the amount of fluid you take in, however. Too much can lead to gastrointestinal distress or water intoxication. Just drink enough plain water or sports drinks to quench your thirst.
Use the Right Gear to Prepare for A Marathon
The late Adebe Bikila won Olympic gold medals in marathon without shoes. He won his first gold medal at the 1964 Tokyo Olympics running barefoot. While this is an impressive feat, to say the least, it should not be the norm. You need the right gear to help you prepare for a marathon.
Bikila did it without shoes on. Jim Thorpe did it with a mismatched pair. During the 1912 Olympics, Thorpe’s running shoes were stolen right before his event. The late sporting great was a Native American, which could be one reason why someone would sabotage his chances. That person failed miserably.
Thorpe wore mismatched shoes he found in the garbage. One shoe was bigger so he had to wear extra socks just so it would fit. He went on to bag two gold medals and a place in the Badass Hall of Fame.
Let’s just assume that you’re no Jim Thorpe or Adebe Bikila. You wouldn’t probably make it through the finish line if you were wearing mismatched shoes or no shoes at all. You’ll need the right kind of shoes whether you’re a serious runner or someone who just likes to go for a jog every now and then.
There is a science to choose the right running shoe. You must consider the size of your feet, arch type, pronation, and gait. Then you have to think about the price. A high quality pair of running shoes is not cheap. It will, however, keep you from hurting yourself and spending money for your recovery or rehabilitation. Check this out for a more detailed look at choosing running shoes.
If money is not an issue, you should go for the Nike ZoomX Vaporfly Next%, one of the best running shoes of 2019, according to T3 and Runner’s World. Each pair of Next% costs $250 to $350. The price goes even higher depending on where you’re buying.
Despite the steep price, runners are getting the Next% because of its quality and performance. It now has 15% more ZoomX foam. It is 10 grams lighter than its predecessor, the Vaporfly 4% Flyknit. Add the full length carbon plate inside the midsole and you’ve got a pair of running shoes that easily leaves the others in the dust.
Of course, you need sock. Business Insider chose Rockay Accelerate Running Socks as the best socks for marathon running. Its anti-blister qualities, particularly the padding along the toe and heel areas, make these socks a definite must-have for runners.
Other impressive features of the Rockay Accelerate Running Socks are compression in the arch area, as well as the tight elastic that keeps dirt from entering the top part. Best of all, the socks are extremely breathable.
Aside from your shoes and socks, you also need to wear something to cover the rest of your body. Well, unless you’re preparing for a naked marathon. If that’s the case, sign me up! Kidding, of course.
For your running clothes, you should be looking for something lightweight. The additional weight of heavy clothes will wear you out during long runs. The material is important, too. You need running clothes made of nylon, polyester, or wool. These fabrics will keep you dry and warm if you’re running. They also keep the sweat away from your body for added comfort so you can focus on running.
Female runners need sports bras. Cup size doesn’t matter. What’s important is that you wear one. Pop Sugar gathered all the best sports bras for running and put them in one list. Check it out, ladies.
Both men and women need compression wear. According to Active, compression clothes keep blood and other fluids from gathering in the lower leg. The specialized clothes put pressure and constrict the blood vessels so the blood will flow through a smaller canal. This will then increase blood pressure in the legs and force blood back up to the heart. This process also minimizes the swelling in the legs and prevents the development of varicose veins.
The Tesla Women’s Thermal WinterGear Compression Leggings is one of the top five compression leggings according to Bustle. The above video shows the men’s leggings. Tesla compression leggings are the perfect attire to wear while training during the cold season or if the marathon you’re preparing for will be held this December. Check this out to find marathons you can join this year and next.
This pair of Tesla compression leggings does double duty as it will keep sweat away from your body while also preventing heat from escaping. That way, you stay warm and dry as you prepare for a marathon.
As for the guys, you can also wear compression leggings or something like the CompressionZ Men’s Compression Shorts. It’s made of 85% nylon and 15% spandex that keep you comfortable while running. CompressionZ boasts of its very own 4-way stretch technology, which puts the focus on the quad and hamstring muscles. This will help keep the runner from having cramps.
A tracking device will help you record some important details about your run. You can use your smartphone to track your run. Simply download the app you like. Some of the popular running apps of 2019 include RunDouble, RunGo, and the brilliantly named Couch to 5K.
Another and more popular option is to use wearables. Fitness trackers help you achieve your goals of getting healthier. They track distance you cover, number of steps you take, time you are active, calorie consumption, and sleep time. They also usually monitor heart rate while specialized fitness trackers monitor fertility, risk of diabetes and sun exposure.
These days, it’s not uncommon to see people, especially those working out, wearing Apple smartwatches, FitBits, Garmins, or other fitness trackers. Tech Radar listed down what it thinks as this year’s ten best fitness trackers. Check the list out to have an easier time choosing what to use as you prepare for a marathon.
The Fitbit Inspire HR Heart Rate & Fitness Tracker is the latest in a long line of FitBits. It is also the best. The Inspire HR combines the best feature of its predecessors. It has the gorgeous slim display of the Alta, the swim-proof quality of the Flex 2, and the clip-on pedometer of the Zip.
The HR version of this lightweight fitness tracker has a 24/7 heart rate monitor that tracks the calories burnt, resting heart rate, and heart rate zones. Both Inspire and Inspire HR track sleep and record workouts automatically. They also come with Bluetooth 4.0 and 5 days of battery life.
Hydration Pack or Water Bottle
As mentioned, it’s important to drink fluids while training. You can skip the water part if you’re workout lasts less than an hour. Of course, you can drink if you want to. When it comes to running for more than an hour, though, drinking fluids is not optional.
If you own a water bottle, you can bring it during your practice runs. It’s not that comfortable holding it while running, though. Also, some believe that holding a bottle in one hand will throw off your weight and balance. It’s better to just carry one small handheld bottle in each hand to maintain balance.
There are better ways to run with a water bottle aside from holding it with your hands. Use water bottle carriers made specifically for runners such as hydration belts and vests.
The Nathan VaporKrar WaistPak is a minimalist hydration belt that’s made of lightweight and flexible material. The zippered pocket can hide your phone and other essentials.
It comes with a 20-ounce Soft Flask for your hydration needs. The flask features a bite valve that keeps the liquid from dripping out. Even with a full flask, you will not feel any bouncing or sloshing.
Most runners prefer hydration packs. It’s simply a small backpack, which carries your hydration bladder. The CamelBak Mil-Tac HydroBak Hydration Pack carries up to 1.5 liters of fluid. It’s BPA, BPS and BPF free so you don’t have to worry about any hazardous chemicals leaking into your water.
The HydroBak’s back panel and harness are made of high quality mesh making it so lightweight you can barely feel that you’re wearing it. Aside from the external fill reservoir, the pack also comes with pockets for your important stuff such as wallet and keys.
The hydration pack looks pleasing to the eyes with its minimalist design. What’s more important, though, is that you can hydrate without stopping or even using your hands. This gives you a better advantage in your training.
Music Player and Earphones
You can always go on a run without your music player and headphones but wouldn’t it be a lot nicer to listen to your favorite tunes while out training for a marathon?
Many people can’t leave home without they’re ears plugged in to some upbeat music. This shouldn’t be different for runners.
Most runners bring their phone with them. If you’re one of them, you probably listen to music from your phone. This is perfectly fine but if you want something lighter to play your music on, there are music players that are suited for training.
Lifewire lists the Sony NWWS623/B Waterproof and Dustproof Walkman as the best music player for running and with good reason. With this modern reincarnation of the Sony Walkman, you get a music player and headphone in one minimalist package.
The Sony Walkman comes with an internal storage of 4GB and 16GB for hours of your select songs or audiobooks. It’s waterproof and sweatproof, and has an impressive battery life of 12 hours. A quick 3-minute charge will give you an hour of playtime.
To choose the best running headphones, you should consider its fit. Obviously, you need your headphones to fit nicely so it won’t fall off while you’re running. This is particularly important if you prefer wireless earphones. Another factor is waterproof rating. You’ll be all sweaty so your buds should be able to handle this. Since you’re running long distances, you need earbuds that have long battery life. Of course, since we’re talking about running headphones, it should have great sound and noise-blocking ability.
The Sennheiser CX Sport wireless earphones are sweat and splash resistant and have a battery life of six hours. That’s two out of the three important factors. As for the fit, the best way to know is to actually fit it in your ear. However, the Sennheiser is designed specifically to be used by sports people so it should fit comfortably. The ear adapters come in four sizes so you better determine which size you need before ordering a pair.
Sennheiser is made in Germany, which basically means it’s a high quality product. The sound quality is exactly what you would expect from German designers and engineers.
All that running can take its toll on your feet, especially if you’re wearing the wrong shoes. Blisters are one of those nasty things that can happen to your feet while training for a marathon. It’s quite common among runners because of the friction between the shoes or socks and your skin.
Dr. Scholl’s Moleskin Plus Padding Roll works well on small blisters. Simply cut off a small piece of moleskin then cover the blister. Watch the video below if you still need help on how to apply moleskin to a blister.
Your feet are not the only ones that need some tender loving care as you prepare for a marathon. Since you’ll be spending a lot of time outdoors, your skin will be exposed to the sun. We’re pretty sure skin cancer and other skin problems are not what you’re after in joining that marathon.
You’ll need the best sunscreen you can find. Fortunately, you don’t have to look too far. Runner’s World has also come up with its list of the best sunscreens for long distance running.
The Coppertone Sport Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion is highly recommended because of its availability and affordability. One bottle cots about $8 though you can get it for less if you get the pack of 3 available on Amazon.
The water resistant Coppertone sunscreen will not wash off your skin even if you’re sweating heavily. It also lasts about 80 minutes so it will keep protecting you during long distance runs.
The moisturizer-infused Sport doesn’t feel oily and doesn’t sting the eyes. They have added Vitamin E for its anti-oxidant qualities.
Running a marathon is something that needs to be taken seriously. You can’t just arrive at the starting line and hope for the best. You must prepare for a marathon just like you prepare for an exam and we don’t mean cheating (I’m looking at you Emily Clark). Follow these basic tips on preparing for a marathon and get yourself the best running gear you can afford. Go to Gentleman Pirate Club and learn more about staying fit and preparing for similar physical activities.