Marathon training tips – beginner tips on how to train for a marathon

Yesterday marked the half way point of (hopefully) my next main dream… running the New York Marathon (I say hopefully because I considered doing it last year, but got injured a month before the event – preventing me from running the 2014 event).  Yesterday afternoon, I ran 15 miles and, thus, completed 8 weeks of rigorous training… just 8 weeks to go.

So, to mark this commemorative moment in my training, I wanted to share with you, my readers, some of my Marathon Training Tips – Beginner tips on how to train for a marathon…

Leave Enough Time

Once you’ve decided to run a marathon, make sure you have enough time to complete a full training plan.  Running a marathon isn’t something to enter into lightly – my plan is for a beginners marathon and is 4 months long.  It started, in the first week, with 3 easy 4 milers, followed by an 8 miler at the weekend… if you’re not already a runner, be sure to take a little more time, before your plan starts, to build up to 4 runs per week – and maybe even to the 4mile mark if you aren’t used to that sort of distance.

Download a Running Tracker App

DigiFit iCardio Interface
DigiFit iCardio Splits
RunKeeper Charts
RunKeeper Splits

If you run with a smart phone, I strongly suggest you download a tracking app for your runs… as you can see in the screenshots above (black are iCardio, white are RunKeeper), they have GPS, inbuilt, to map your outdoor runs, and record your time/distance/speed amongst others.  I use RunKeeper and iCardio (these are both free apps, with upgrades available – I haven’t needed the upgrades) but I find RunKeeper to be the better option due to its training plans, which leads me to…

Get a Proper Training Plan

I truly believe this is the sole reason I actually got injured last year – I didn’t have a proper training plan – so, although I was dead on track with the distances of my long weekend runs, I was only doing half of the shorter runs during the week.  These shorter runs are vital for building strength and stamina to help your body cope with the longer weekend runs.  In order to avoid injury, I, therefore, strongly recommend entering into a full training plan that suits your personal lifestyle needs.

The tracker apps, mentioned above, sometimes have training schedules in built into the system… as I mentioned above, RunKeeper is great for this.  These apps are extremely useful for telling you when to finish your run – or, if your training schedule requires you to do any sort of interval training, when to change speeds.  You can always check back at the end of your run, too, to monitor your marathon goals in terms of what sort of speeds/intervals you are achieving.

ALWAYS Warm Up and Cool Down

Stretching Selfie

I generally do more dynamic stretches/movements to warm up – this gets my muscles prepared for the run, and my blood flowing… high knees, skipping, arm rotations and some standing yoga stretches are great examples of good warm up exercises.

To cool down, I tend to walk around for a minute or so, followed by some more seated stretches.  If I don’t stretch it out after my longer runs, I tend to find that my muscles seize up and I’m aching for days!!  Avoid this by following a good cool down plan.

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Warm ups and cool downs only need to take 5 minutes each – although, I’ve found that, after my long run, getting my feet higher than my body for 5 minutes or so, on top of my cool down routine, feels amazing!!  I like to stay in a headstand for a few minutes… alternatively, you can lie, face up, on the floor with your feet up a wall – this works just as well!

One Step at a Time

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Take it one step at a time… if you try to think too far ahead, you’re likely to become overwhelmed with the amount that has to be done.  Take each training day as it comes and, likewise, take each mile as it comes – particularly when it comes to the long weekend run.  Pace yourself at the beginning (even if you’re feeling fresh) and speed up in the second half if you’re still feeling great.

Keep Hydrated

When it comes to the long runs, in particular, both water and electrolyte/sports drinks are vital.  Water will generally be enough if you’re running for less than an hour – otherwise, a sports drink will help replace the electrolytes lost through sweat and, thus, avoid diluting your blood due to low salt/sodium levels.

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If you don’t like carrying water bottles, ensure you plant “recharge stations” on the running routes you plan to use throughout your training before you set off.  Otherwise, there are plenty of hydrationandyou can buy to ensure you always have fluids and keep your hands free.

Carb Up

You may have heard of the infamous “carb loading” before particularly long or vigorous workouts – this keeps the muscles working for longer.

Now, although I’m not sure how I, personally, feel about dietary supplements of any kind… some research has shown that there is only a certain amount of glycogen your body can hold, and this will quickly disappear throughout your run – making your muscles feel heavy and tired.  Many sources advise runners to consume about 30-60g of carbs each hour if your run happens to take longer than 2 hours.

Great sources of carbs include; (which should be taken with a few gulps of water – not sports drink), raisins, or(or regular jelly beans/babies, as a substitute – they just don’t contain the extra electrolytes, but if you already have a sports drink this is generally fine).

The best way is, probably, to experiment with these products during your training runs and figure out which (if any) work best for you so your not trying something new on the race day.

Keep Rest Days for Rest!!

You’re rest days are needed to help you rejuvenate your body… allow it, for just that!!  One or two days for a different kind of training, such as HIIT, can be good to change up the muscles you’re working… strength training is good for endurance, balance and, of course, strength… and swimming is great if you want something lower impact.  Always leave at least one or two days per week for complete rest though.

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Have you ever, or are you planning to, run a marathon?  Any extra tips or advice for a first marathon runner?  Please feel free to join the discussion in the comments below!!

Love, Magic and Fairy Dust 😉

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(N.B. I should probably let you all know here, I haven’t actually signed up yet… I’m waiting until the last minute so I don’t get disappointed like last year!! )

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