Tips and Tricks for Marathon Training
So you want to run a marathon… Running a marathon is a big goal for anyone, but if you’ve never run one, there are some things you should know before embarking on this journey. This is not a task you should take lightly, but one for which you must spend time preparing. You will want to protect yourself from possible injury, prepare your body with the proper training, and be sure you have the right equipment for the job, starting from the bottom (your running shoes). Even if you don’t take a tumble, and we hope you won’t, there is risk for injury with any long-distance run. Feet, ankles, knees, and other body parts can take a beating on race day if you are not properly prepared.
Tip #1: Choose Your Shoes Wisely. Certified trainer and former Olympic sprinter Samantha Clayton urges marathoners to be choosy about their footwear, and get fitted by a professional. “If you are serious about completing a full marathon, it’s worth the investment. Spend time getting the perfect shoe for your foot. Your friend may convince you about a specific brand, but in reality a good running shoe is not a one-size-fits-all kind of deal, some are too narrow, others too wide.” Be picky, try the shoes out for a while, and if they bother you during training, return them. Save yourself time, money, pain, and potential injury by making sure your footwear is comfortable and will hold up when it counts.
Tip #2: Be Realistic. Running a marathon is all about conquering the distance, not beating the clock, especially if this is your first time out. Set realistic, healthy expectations for yourself, especially when it comes to your time. Even the most seasoned runners have no idea what their actual marathon times will be. Many uncontrollable variables can affect your performance time, such as the weather, so give yourself a break, aim for a strong finish, and don’t set a specified finish time.
Tip #3: Prevent Chafing. This is normal for runners, and there are expensive ointments, gels, and creams to prevent it, but petroleum jelly works just as well. Yes, good old fashioned Vaseline can be your friend when it comes to keeping things smooth and chafe-free. Save yourself some money, and pick up some of this tried and true remedy at the market or drug store.
Tip #4: Change Things Up. While running is the best way to train for a marathon, cross training by swimming, jumping rope, yoga, weight training, bicycling, and/or Pilates two days a week will improve your fitness. Give your joints a rest from all the pounding running entails, and infuse some low-impact activities into your training routine. When you’re training in the gym, try running sideways or backwards on the treadmill, to work different sets of muscles and strengthen your core.
Tip #5: See It. Professional athletes use it all the time, and coaches across the world preach the advantages of visualization. Proven to positively impact those who use it by improving their success, spending just a few minutes a day picturing yourself crossing the marathon finish line with a smile on your face, arms held aloft, and hearing the cheers and applause of the crowd celebrating your hard work can go a long way toward making your marathon dream come true.