You might ask yourself, “What did I get myself into?” upon signing your first-ever marathon. And yes, it’s a bit perplexing to want to run 20 miles for a cause or for your physical health. Why can’t you just go on a diet like a normal person? Why can’t you just run on the treadmill like everyone else? Well, you’ve signed up for it. You might as well do your best to reach the finish line.
Ask a friend to time you and measure your speed using a radar gun. That will give you a sense of what you need to work on. You can make a plan after learning what speed you can maintain and how fast you can run in 30 minutes.
Be Aware of Your Limits
You should have done this before you signed up for the marathon. But just in case you haven’t, you should consult your doctor to make sure that you’re fit and healthy to do the marathon. If you have existing medical conditions, make sure that running a marathon won’t put you at risk.
You might be better off running shorter races first such as a 5K, 10K, or even a half marathon. That will prepare you for the longer race. It will keep you mentally and physically fit to run the 26.2-mile marathon that you’ve been eyeing.
Invest in the Proper Gear
Not only are you going to have your photos plastered unintentionally on social media (this is a public event, right?), but you’ll also be running for at least three hours. The least you can do for your aching body is to invest in the right shoes, socks, shirt, and leggings/shorts. Your shoes should be lightweight and can provide ample support.
Break in your new shoes before the big race so that you’ll feel more comfortable with them. If you develop blisters during the short run, they are not the right shoes for the longer race. Do your research on the types of shoes and socks you should wear. The same goes for the dri-fit technology that many sporting clothes use.
Learn How to Fuel Your Body
What’s the right food for you to eat? Don’t succumb to fad diets. Instead, eat a healthy diet of green, leafy vegetables, fruits, nuts, and lean meat. Similar to after a workout, the best time to refuel your body is that 30-minute period after a run. Your body can best utilize the carbohydrates and protein in your diet. It is recommended that you eat food with a protein to carbohydrate ratio of three is to one. You can also use protein shake and chocolate milk to refuel the loss of energy.
Run on the Same Course
Start practicing on the same topography as the marathon. If you’re running in the New York City marathon, find hilly terrain or use the incline feature of the treadmill. If you’re running on flat terrain, find the same course and do it over and over. A flat course might look less challenging, but it means that you’re going to use the same muscle group for the whole race, so it’s best to practice.
And as always, don’t forget to hydrate. You’re allowed a quick water break while running the marathon. You can use the same energy drink that will be provided during the marathon, especially if you have a sensitive stomach.
The most important thing is to get to know your body. Learn to listen to it. If your body tells you to stop, then do so. No one needs you on a stretcher on the finish line. Do all you have to do to prepare, but the most critical thing to learn is to listen to what your body is telling you.