Tips on Preparing for a Marathon

The one tip I probably don’t have to mention, but will anyway, months of training.  But before you even begin your physical training you need to start your mental training.  Why do you want to run a marathon?  The first answer that comes to mind is not the one I want.  I want the answer that you have to search for.  As long as your motivation and goals are strong you will continue training and make it to race day without quitting.  (That episode of The Big Bang Theory where Penny says she runs until she feels like eating a Bear Claw isn’t exactly the kind of goal I’m looking for either.)

To begin your physical training, the first step is to be able to run about a half hour without stopping.  Once you can accomplish this, you’ll want to continue building your stamina and move from time to distance.  Build up to a 5 mile run, a 10 mile run, a 15 mile run, and so on.  By the time you get to race day, you’ll be able to cross that finish line.  (That first jump from time to distance will be a fight, but you can do it!)  Before taking that first step though, stretch, and after taking that last step, you got it, stretch.

Remember, everyone needs a day off, so take relaxation days and don’t run every day of the week.  Your body needs to rest.  Gradually lengthen your runs to avoid injury, and be sure to drink plenty of liquids.  And no, I do not mean libations.

When you get close to race day, run the actual course.  This will take some of the stress out of race day, because you’ll already know how to get there, how long it takes you to get there, where to park, and what the actual course is like.  Also, be sure to run the last half mile or so of the course at least a couple of times.  You want to know what the end looks like.  After all, it’s what you’re working your butt off for.  The day before the race take a break and walk for no more than two hours.  Don’t eat a huge meal the night before.  I know your basketball coach told you in seventh grade to eat a plate of spaghetti the night before the game, but it takes more than 24 hours to digest that and it’s no fun running around with food bouncing up and down in your stomach.  Don’t get me wrong; throughout your training you’ll want to consume carbs, unsaturated fats, and protein, but eat small carb-infused meals throughout the day before and a simple breakfast the day of.

If you’re a first time runner line up in the back at the start of the race.  This way you won’t feel like you have to keep up with the fastest runners and lose all of your energy at the beginning of the race.  This will also ensure you’re out of the way when you have to take your walking breaks.  Set a pace and stick to it.  Above all, remember to have fun.  You know that saying that it’s not the destination, but the journey?  Make this your motto throughout those long double digit miles.  And if you pass someone, encourage them on like others encouraged you on.  Race like a family; motivate one another.

Don’t overdress; you’ll warm up when you start moving, and stick your number on your shorts so you can take off that light jacket when it warms up and put it back on if it cools down without having to fiddle with your number.

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