Preparing for a marathon requires as much strategy and dedication as the race itself. It takes a special commitment to train, exercise, and mentally prepare for the 26.2-mile race.
We’re here with some tips and information to get you geared up for your big race.
Talk about training
A quick Google search can provide weekly running plans or a list of best running apps to set goals, record metrics and track your progress to help you train and stick with it.
Marathon training plans typically outline a buildup of miles run over weeks at a time and often suggest interval training and splits during some runs.
While it can be tempting to continue running at a high volume, runners should limit their overall miles the week before the race. During race week, mileage should be even more minimal to keep your legs fresh and let your body rest, replenish and rebuild.
Carb loading: A diet you won’t dread
“Carb loading” is a popular method of preparing your body for a race by eating more meals with carbohydrates to help boost energy during the run. It’s an essential step in preparation, but ultimately, don’t change your diet drastically.
The best way to prepare is to slowly ease more carbohydrates into your diet a few days before the run and hatch a race day nutrition plan.
Hydration before, during and after the race
Hydration is key to successfully running and recovering from a marathon or long run. It’s crucial to begin hydrating days before the race so that your electrolytes are adequate for the run. The key is to start the race with a full tank.
During the race, it’s equally important to stay hydrated. Create a standard regimen of hydrating throughout the race by stopping at hydration stations and grabbing a water or sports drink.
A good rule of thumb is that if you are already thirsty or experience “cottonmouth,” you are already dehydrated. A couple of sips along the route can help. Quick-digesting carbs from gel packets or sports chews are also great options.
Be sure to test out everything before race day to see how your body responds and ensure no surprises.
Watch the weather
Prepare for anything. We all know how the weather can change within 24 hours. Be ready for warm weather, where you prepare with lighter clothes and more hydration on that day or cold weather. Dress in layers, as you never know what you’ll need to shed.
Ready for race day
For first-time marathoners, race day can be exhilarating and nerve-wracking. After all the training and hard work that’s gone into preparing for the marathon, it can be normal to have some pre-race butterflies.
Rest easy knowing you’re prepared to be both mentally and physically ready for the big race. Prepare for race day butterflies by doing the following:
- Pick up your registration packet two or three days before the race.
- Lay out what you’ll be wearing for the marathon beforehand.
- Get to the race early and avoid traffic, parking issues and the stress that comes along with potentially running late.
- Give yourself adequate time to stretch and mentally prepare for your race.
During the race
It’s normal to experience some discomfort when running a marathon, and the runner’s mentality may be to push through all pains. However, you do need to know when to listen to your body. It can be easy to overlook your body’s signals because of the adrenaline on race day.
Pain that trumps everything is chest pain and unusual shortness of breath compared to normal muscle cramps.
After the race
While everyone may be focused on finishing the marathon, few think about what to do afterward. Ease back into your running in moderation to replenish all the glycogen stores you depleted. Cross-training is a way to help heal your body. Using something like an elliptical can use your muscles differently and help you recover and prevent injury.
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