Going for a run down the block is one thing, but running a marathon? That’s another matter entirely. If you are considering a marathon run, you should be careful not to take it lightly. Walking into this thing without being properly prepared could result in injury…or at the very least, you could make yourself look very foolish. In this article, we will attempt to give you some idea of what you need to do before attempting to run a marathon.
How Long Is A Marathon?
A marathon is exactly 26.219 miles, so make sure you understand how long of a run you will be doing. Why that specific length? The answer dates back to ancient Greece, where the Olympic games first originated. At the battle of Marathon, the Greeks finally defeated their old enemies, the Persians, in a decisive battle.
Legend has it that a soldier named Pheidippides was given the task of carrying word to Athens that the battle had been won. The distance between Marathon and Athens was just over 26 miles, and this distance has been the official distance for all marathons ever since.
Before you can even think about running a 26-mile endurance race, you should look at this checklist and make sure that you have done the following:
- Consulted with your doctor to ensure that you are healthy enough
- Bought an appropriate and high-quality pair of shoes
- Acquired some cool, comfortable running clothes
- Put together a mix of your favorite motivational music
- Established a regular stretching routine
All of these things are highly important. The doctor’s visit and the stretching routine are both intended to serve the same purpose, and that purpose is injury prevention. Acquiring the proper shoes and clothes will keep you from being hindered by wardrobe malfunctions or excessive weight. Contrary to the advertisements, good running shoes will not make you any more physically capable than you already are, but they will help to keep your feet comfortable and well-supported.
The motivational mix is not necessarily required, but it really is a helpful step. Everyone knows at least a song or two that really stirs them and makes them want to do great things. This is the kind of music that you want. Think of it as a mind-control experiment that you perform on yourself, to see how different types of music will affect your performance and the way that you feel.
The Importance Of Warming Up
Since you are planning to push yourself, the importance of a good warm-up cannot be overstated. When you first wake up in the morning, and you get that initial rush of energy, resist the temptation to run right out the door. Instead, spend 10-20 minutes stretching. You can go with any type of stretching routine that you want, but try to make sure that you are working as many muscles as possible.
Do not skimp on this aspect of your training. You are about to enter a hardcore kind of race, and you need a hardcore kind of routine. Here is a warm-up and stretching routine that comes from Kyokushin Karate. Although it is intended for martial arts rather than marathon running, it is a great example of the kind of routine you want. You are about to enter a serious kind of athletic event, and you need a serious warmup routine. If you find this routine to be a little too intense, you can always modify it as needed.
Create A Good Training Plan
Although we will give you a few sample plans, it is important that you create your workout routine. You could certainly use one of the sample routines below, but why go with a generalized version when you could have something that is custom-made for you?
The basic idea is to make a weekly schedule and stick to it. At least one of those days should be rest days. Two rest days are ideal for beginners as long as you space them out. You might also choose to designate one day as an “active recovery” day, meaning that you take it easy for a day rather than resting.
At least one day should be devoted to intense, all-out exercise, meaning the kind of exercise where you give it everything you have for as long as you can. It’s also good to have a “slow but steady” day in which you work out for at a low or medium intensity for as long as you can. here is a little more information on these two types of training.
Here is one possible schedule, intended for the absolute beginner preparing for a marathon:
Burnout day. Start with a warmup, then use a mixture of sprinting and weight training to create an intense workout with very few breaks. Push yourself to the limit, but be careful.
Slow-but-steady day. Instead of running, do a light jog. Today, you will concentrate on endurance rather than speed. Don’t push yourself too hard in terms of performance, but maintain the jog for as long as possible. Follow up your jog with some weight training, push-ups, and/or planking. The rule here is a minimal difficulty level with maximum reps.
Cross-training day. Today, you will choose some exercise other than running, walking, or jogging. Concentrating too much on one thing is never a good idea. It doesn’t really matter which exercise type you choose, because the idea is to create variety.
Active recovery day. Instead of running, take a long walk. Don’t walk like an old lady taking a Thursday afternoon stroll, walk with a purpose. Some people call this “power walking.”
Slow-but-steady day. Repeat instructions for Tuesday.
Burnout day. Repeat instructions for Monday.
Rest day. No workout at all except stretching and some light calisthenics.
Here is an example of a workout that is intended for a more advanced runner:
Resistance training without weights. This can include push-ups, pull-ups, sit-ups, planking, crunches, etc. Any exercise that uses your body weight as resistance is acceptable.
This will be a slow-but-steady day.
This will be a burnout day.
This will be a rest day.
This will be another burnout day. Wear some extra weight on your body to make things even harder.
This will be another slow-but-steady day.
Alternate between running and jogging for as long as possible.
Like any marathon runner, you’ve got some serious work ahead of you. However, we are confident that you can achieve the results that you deserve by following the advice that we have given. What do we mean when we say “the result that you deserve?” The answer to that is very simple: As with anything in life, what you put into your training will determine what you get out of your training.
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