How to Prepare for a Marathon
How to Prepare for a
If you have the motivation, you can run a marathon. Of course, how well you do depends on your training and your intrinsic abilities, and this will vary from person to person.
Up until recently, the marathon was thought to be impossible for all but a few superhuman athletes.
After all, the very first marathon runner - the ancient Greek messenger who ran from Marathon to Athens to warn of an attacking army - dropped dead as soon as he had delivered his message!
But in modern times, many people from all skill levels participate in mass marathons like the New York City Marathon.
This NYC event began in 1970; then there were only 55 runners who completed the event. By contrast, today almost thirty thousand runners take part in the event each year. That number is similar to the attendance record for other big marathons around the world, including those run in Tokyo, London, and Chicago.
This proves that practically anyone can run a marathon. Of course, it's hard work.
You need to prepare yourself and a lot of practice and dedication goes into completing a course.
The people who run successfully are those who are very physically fit and who have trained faithfully. Perhaps they are regular athletes, perhaps they have already instated a healthy diet and training program. But marathon runners also include formerly overweight or unfit folks who decided to use a marathon as an excuse to get into shape.
Of course, marathon running is a rather extreme sport and a tough way to whip yourself into shape. A marathon requires running for about 3 to 7 hours in a row. Even a person who can play basketball for an hour without a problem will probably have difficulty running for more than an hour at a time. But training religiously over the course of six months will build up your stamina and prepare you well.
Six months is the minimum for people who are already in reasonable shape. If you are out of shape, you will need to start training much more than six months in advance. A couple years is actually a much better timeframe.
Throughout, stick to a training schedule, which will provide goals to keep you motivated. The marathon is the furthest goal, but also come up with some targets to work for in the meantime.
Set goals such as running ten miles at one go, for instance. And no matter what your physical situation is, it's always a good idea to consult with your physician before you embark on any new fitness regimen.
Make sure your doctor knows your plans, and ask for any advice about how you can stay healthy and safe while training.
Above all, running a marathon requires a lot of advance training. You'll need to find a schedule to follow; there are many great schedules for marathon training on the internet as well as in fitness or running magazines.
Pick one that is tailored to your own situation--there are schedules for new runners as well as for seasoned athletes. Once you set up a schedule, don't give yourself any excuses to skip training days--stick to the plan! In the weeks right before the marathon you'll need to take it easy to let your body get ready for the intensity of running the whole course.
Run less in the last two weeks, which tapering off should be built into your schedule. And on the day of the marathon itself, be sure to pace yourself.
Don't start off too fast because then you'll just get tired too quickly. Keep drinking water to stay hydrated and run at a pace that's right for you.
The feeling of accomplishment that comes with crossing the finish line will be great motivation to keep you moving forward!
Violet Mardeza has competed around in the world in 17 marathons and innumerable road races. She divulges her running experiences for the benefit of all other athletes at First Running.
author of How to Prepare for a Marathon is Violet Mardeza
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