Running your first marathon
Running a marathon is tough and takes a tremendous deal of mental discipline and physical endurance to get to the finish line. If the mere thought of even attempting to run 5km let alone 42km is difficult to fathom, read on!
I remember the day I considered running my first marathon. I had just finished my third fun run, The Wings for Life World Challenge. I had just ran 15km and was on the hunt, looking for my next challenge. My friend suggested I run a marathon. I thought, why not do it just once?
Do your research
Considering I knew nothing about running a marathon, I decided to do some research.
I devised a training and nutrition plan and did my best to stick to it for the full 12 weeks.
Nearing the end of my training program, I was running approximately 60km per week. I did one long run (21-30km), one mid-distance (10-16km) and 2-3 short runs (4-6km). I hadn’t always been a consistent runner though. Rewind to a year earlier and I was only running 5km every few weeks and was always opting to skip runs I had scheduled altogether because it was too hard.
Here are my top tips for anyone who wants to run a marathon
1. Follow a training plan. Consistency is key and you need to have regular runs scheduled throughout the week. The weekly mileage should gradually increase as you work through the plan.
2. Never skip the long runs. Long runs (10-16km+) should be scheduled once a week. The pace you run will set the pace you will run for your marathon and will help you build the endurance required. But if you miss one run, don’t try to make up for it the following week. Increasing your weekly mileage by too much too soon can result in injury and fatigue.
3. Get proper running shoes. Running shoes should have adequate shock absorption and should be support yet light. They should also fit properly as shoes that are too tight can cause blisters. If you keep getting blisters each time you run, consider changing your shoes.
4. Listen to your body. Never ignore any niggles when you're running as this can be a sign of the early stages of an injury. If you are getting any pain, stop running and see your physio. By addressing any niggles early you can avoid a full-blown injury that could put a stop to your training completely.
5. Do strength training. This is very important as muscles require adequate endurance to run over a long distance. Neglecting this can put you at risk of injury.
6. Stretch and foam roll after every session. This will help loosen tight muscles.
7. Get regular panel beating. Remedial massage goes hand in hand with stretching and foam rolling to loosen overworked muscles and assist with recovery by increasing circulation.
8. Fuel up. Eating a balance of complex carbohydrates and other nutrient will give you the energy you need to run at peak performance.
Although running a marathon can seem like an impossible challenge, if you’re prepare to plan and put in a lot of effort it is achievable. I’m looking forward to my next marathon!