There’s a moment after you register for your first marathon when it suddenly becomes clear that you’ve committed to running much farther than 26.2 miles. It sinks in that your training will require easily over 100 miles of running. And, if you’re a sane person, that’s the moment it gets a little scary and you realize: this thing you’ve decided to do is really going to hurt.
But don’t fret—here are some tips to make the training process a little bit smoother (except the running part, of course, that’s really all up to you):
One of the biggest things you’ll have to do is rearrange your schedule a little bit to make time for your runs. When you have a 26.2‑mile race looming, the last thing you want to do is skimp on training because you just don’t have enough time. If you really don’t have enough time, you have no business running a marathon. It’s as easy as that. So make sure you can fit in runs at least 4 or 5 days of the week.
Find a schedule that works for you
All it takes is a quick Google search and you’ll find a variety of marathon-training schedules. One is bound to work for you. Be sure to tweak it as much as necessary and add the runs to your phone calendar so you’ll have it with you at all times.
You will feel every day of procrastination in your marathon. Seriously. Get out there and go run today. Don’t push off your training runs or you won’t be getting the distance or speed you want in your longer runs.
Slow and steady
Don’t plan on starting with 7‑mile runs if you haven’t even been running five. Increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent, because the last thing you want is an injury. And don’t worry too much about your pace to start with. It’s your first marathon; your primary goal should be just to finish.
Use your rest days
Use your rest days; you’ll need them. Overuse is easy when you’re training for a long run and it can cause huge problems. So be sure to relax. You won’t get stronger if you’re constantly trying to go at 100 percent.
Besides choosing healthier options, you’ll also probably want to eat more than usual since you’ll be burning a lot of calories on those runs—and you’ll really need the fuel. And don’t necessarily worry about “carbo loading.” Use your food schedule during your training as a gauge of what to eat before, during and after your marathon. Don’t do anything different just for the race; keep it consistent.
The longer you run, the more water you’ll need. Don’t get dehydrated. Not only will it cost you in your runs, resulting in a slower pace you might not even be able to sustain for as far as you need to, it can also result in serious health issues.
Get some sleep
You won’t be able to run at 100 percent if you haven’t been sleeping at 100 percent. And you might even need to sleep a little more than usual, because a 17-mile run can really tucker you out.
Do some cross-training
Cross-training is a great way to mix it up and avoid overuse of certain muscles. Do some yoga for stretching and strength, or head out for a bike ride to work on your endurance and use your legs in a different way. Do what works for you and fits in your training schedule.
Try to have fun
A lot of running magazines will tell you that marathons are fun, but in actuality: they’re not really. The fun part is the feeling you get when you’re done and being able to say you did it. The actual running part is hard and it hurts, but forcing a smile until it becomes real can definitely help make it more enjoyable. Fake it till you make it.