26.2 miles of grueling effort.
It could be one of the hardest but greatest things you will ever try and achieve.
If you have never done a marathon before it can be a daunting prospect to take one on for the first time.
The obvious question is where to start?
There are a few areas you will probably want to be focusing on when preparing for a marathon. The first key area is to decide your time frame. How long are you going to give yourself to train for the event?
For most people I would recommend giving yourself at least 16 weeks to build up and prepare for the event.
I would recommend you split your training up into 2-3 styles of training
1. Distance runs – You will be wanting to build up your strength and endurance and gradually build distance week in week out over the 16-week training plan. For most people you will be looking to build up to around a 20-mile distance run in your training. Most experts recommend not going to the full race distance as the risks of injury outweighs the benefits from the run.
2. Tempo runs – Tempo running is often referred to as ‘comfortably hard’ runs. The idea of this type of running is to push your body at the right tempo to get it used to working a bit harder. This way your body adapts to make itself more efficient and fitter in the process.
3. Interval/speed work – For those who are more advanced or towards the later stages of training you could add some more formal interval-based work. This is where you are running for much shorter periods at a higher pace. Again this will help to improve your overall fitness.
There are many types of training schedules out there, it essentially comes down to your level and starting point. Overall the key will be to keep it consistent.
Another key area to focus on is your nutrition. It is important to understand your body and understand how much water and energy you will need to take on before and during the event. If you have too little you will run out of energy, on the other hand if you overdo it you don’t want to be running to the toilet every 30 minutes.
During the race and training runs I would recommend taking on some form of carbohydrates for every hour you race. This probably means taking on either a few gels or a sports drink along the way. Make sure you trial anything you are planning to have as you don’t want to have an upset stomach during the race! The benefits of most sports drinks are that they will help to replenish any electrolytes and salts that you may lose during a run.
In terms of hydration it is essential you keep topped up during the race. A seasoned runner told me a good tactic is to carry water with you and try and take small sips every now and again throughout the race. This will keep you hydrated but will stop any sick feeling from taking on too much at once. Whichever way you do it, it is vital that you make sure you are hydrated but again do some trial and error. You don’t want to be hitting the bushes too often along the way.
Another key area to consider is your running kit, in particular your running shoes. In order to achieve consistent training, you need to stay healthy and injury free. Having the right footwear is very important for this. A good place to start would be somewhere like Up and Running. They will provide you with the expertise to get the right footwear for your own individual needs.
Overall training for a marathon is not an easy task by far. It will take dedication and some serious motivation to get yourself out running regularly. It will however be a fantastic experience and will make you stronger not only physically but mentally as well.
At the end of the day to say that you have run a marathon is an incredible thing to be able to do.
So get it booked, tick it off the bucket list and get stuck in!