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15 Essential Tips to Pursing your First Marathon

Written by: T.J. Murphy
Posted: Wednesday, 16 January 2008
(1 vote)
 

7.Drink on the run. When performing runs of an hour or more, itís important to hydrate with water and/or sports drinks. Make sure your routes pass by water fountains or places you can stash sports drinks, or do as the ultrarunners do and carry them with you via a belt pack (available at running stores).

8. Pace yourself. Pace is the key to effective training and successful racing. Your training plan should guide you to running at a proper pace or heart-rate intensity. Going too fast will blow the purpose of the workout (to train a specific energy system) and expose your body to the kind of stress that can lead to breakdown. Going too fast in the first half of a marathon almost always leads to a disastrous race. (This is so important that weíll mention it again.)

9. Schedule your long runs with groups at a similar level. Some runners love to perform their long runs in a solitary mode, by themselves where they can focus on their pace and enjoy the silence. Most marathoners, however, prefer to make long runs a social occasion. When runs climb up toward and beyond the two-hour mark, a group run (provided the pace is right for you) makes for an optimal workout.

10.Crosstrain for strength. Running may well be the most effective exercise for getting your heart and cardiovascular system into super shape, but when it comes to the muscular and skeletal systems, it lacks harmony. Adding one or two workouts a week that attend to core strength and flexibility will help you stay balanced. Consider tapping your gym membership for a strength class, purchasing a DVD or go online. For a great core routine  to get started, go to www.coachkengrace.com/SportsCore.htm.

11.Log your training. The power of a detailed logbook ritual is that it dials your concentration into each and every workout and delivers a satisfaction in the accumulation of training miles. It also lives on as a record of what worked for you (and what didnít work).

12. Training for and running a marathon takes a long, disciplined approach. We touched on this earlier, but itís so important it requires another mention. The great runners in the world didnít become great overnight. Their running is the product of thousands and thousands of miles accumulated over months and years. Itís often said that it takes 10 years of consistent training to fully develop running talent, and this especially applies to the marathon. Your first marathon is but one step in this direction (assuming you want to be a lifelong runner).

13. Throw in a few shorter races in your marathon buildup. Racing 5Ks, 8Ks and 10Ks may be in your training plan from the start, and for good reason: Short races give you something fun to train toward and make terrific speed workouts for the first-time marathoner.

14.Acknowledge and treat aches and pains. Veteran runners have learned the hard way the importance of paying attention to even minor tweaks and pains that arise within the feet, legs, hips and back. Some of these pains may just be bumps in the road as your body adapts to the stress of running; others may be precursors to injuries, injuries capable of stalling or even stopping your training. Take nothing lightly. Seek a sports doctorís advice if you hear alarm bells go off. First-aid includes ice and massage, and perhaps a fresh pair of running shoes. Exchange a running workout or two with a bike ride or swim, giving the body a chance to catch up.<

15. The race. Here are a few bits and pieces that can make all the difference on race day. First, be sure you take it easy during the two or three days before the gun goes off. This doesnít simply mean a proper taper, but that you should avoid spending a lot of time walking around or standing, and try and minimize general life stress. If travel is in the mix to get to your destination race city, give yourself plenty of time to get there, deal with registration, figure out where to be (and when) come race morning, and ensure you have the right foods and drinks available for a pre-race breakfast. Bring clothes suitable for the possible weather conditions you may face. If itís chilly, wear a long-sleeve top that can be disposed of after the opening miles of the marathon, as your body warms up and the sun rises into the sky. Wear proper shoes. Avoid racing flats in your first marathon (if not all of them). Use a training shoe you trust. Clip your toenails the night before the race, not the morning of (to avoid irritation), and be sure to double-knot your laces. If itís a big marathon, donít stress out about how crowded the first mile or two is. Try and get through these with as little wasted energy as possible. Youíre tapered and charged with adrenaline; take these into account when you settle into your pace. Itís best to go too slow at first than to go too fast. 

 

Contributing Editor T.J. Murphy holds a 2:38 marathon PR and has finished five Ironmans.

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Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved.