Six Basic Guidelines for Marathon Training

A New Year brings new opportunities and new challenges.  Many of you, at some point or another, have danced with the idea of running a marathon.  While running a marathon or half marathon seems like a daunting task, it is a very achievable and worthy goal.  Armed with correct information and proper training, it is something that any healthy individual - once cleared by their physician - can accomplish.

Before beginning a training regimen it is important to understand a few key elements that will not only ensure you stay injury free but also help you achieve your goals efficiently.  Below are six basic guidelines to get you started! 

#1 Choose a training plan that ranges between 12 to 16 weeks

If it is your first race, more time is advisable since this will give you some flexibility in case you get sick or have a slight setback or injury.   A longer plan will also allow your body more time to get used to the rigors of running and decrease the chance of injury due to overtraining. One mistake new runners make is jumping into a 12 or 14 week training plan without building a proper base.  Most programs recommend you be able to run a minimum of 30 minutes without stopping before getting into training. 

#2 Research and pick a race that is right for you 

The number of people participating in the event, the terrain of the course, time of year and weather forecast are a few things that will have a big impact on your performance and success on race day.  Choose a race that allows ample time for training. 

#3 Invest in a good pair of running shoes

Once you have chosen your race and your training plan it is time to go out and start running.  But first, make sure you invest in a good pair of running shoes, as this will be the most important piece of your running gear.  Try on several pairs to find the best and most suitable for your feet.  Once you find a pair you like, consider buying an extra set to rotate during your training period. 

#4 Consider quality over quantity when preparing for your race

Running lots of miles each week is one way to prepare, but lots of miles can also increase your chance of injury.  Participating in non-running aerobic activities or cross-training is a great way to optimize running fitness without having to increase mileage or risk over-running.  Light resistance training that targets the core, upper body and lower body will also help you maintain good form, fight off fatigue during longer runs and give you an extra edge on race day.

#5 Get rest!  

Resting is just as important as running when preparing for any event.  Your body needs time to rebuild and repair.  Skipping rest days will tax your body’s ability to recover and make you more prone to injury.  Be sure to take your scheduled rest days, but also listen to your body and rest when it is telling you to.  When you miss a run, just move on as if you had completed it.  Do not try to squeeze in the run the next day or on consecutive days.   

#6 Eat a well-balanced diet

Remember to eat a balanced and nutritious diet consisting of complex carbohydrates, lean proteins and healthy fats.  Also eat plenty of vegetables and fruits as this will make sure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals essential for repairing and maintaining a healthy body.  Make sure to drink plenty of water and stay hydrated every day, not just on training days.

Personalize your training and take your performance to the next level with St. Luke’s Performance Medicine.  Call 936-266-3130 to schedule your appointment today.