Health & Nutrition

7 tips to prepare for your first marathon

The popularity of a marathon is on the rise today as we now have over 365 marathon races organised every year in India. Running a marathon is a unique sport. You are only competing with yourself and not with others when participating in this challenge and this is the key factor that differentiates marathon running from any other sport. You are either trying to achieve your personal best, to finish the run before the countdown ends or just finish the run altogether to prove to yourself that you can do it.

The best part about running a marathon is the fact that anyone can do it! If you witness a marathon, you’ll see all kinds of people – young and old, slim or overweight and even people with handicaps all participating to complete the race within the stipulated time.

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For the ones who are trying to run their first, it’s all about sticking to basics and training regularly. If you’re gearing up for your first marathon, these simple tips will help you prepare for the challenge and ensure you’re ready to compete and complete the task:-

1. Run regularly and increase your distance over time

For a first-timer, it’s important to start training for a marathon 2-3 months in advance. Since the marathon is all about running, you can start by doing 3-4 runs per week only to get your body and system to adjust to the demands of the activity. It is advisable to not run every day and do strength training/ stretching on non-running days. This will help prevent injuries. When it comes to increasing the mileage, you can use a thumb rule of increasing your running distance by 15% every week. You can keep weekdays for shorter runs and consider longer runs on the weekends.

2. Don’t push through injuries and wait to recover

Ask any runner and you will understand how much injuries are a standard part of running. The biggest cause of any running related injury is over-training. Injuries can be avoided or better dealt with just by being patient. If you start getting pain or begin to feel some discomfort while running, take a break and get some rest and make sure you get it treated until you return to your training.

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3. Find a running partner or train with a family member or friend

It’s easier to train with other runners and especially the ones who might have completed a marathon before. Check around with your family and friends to find a good running mate. A running partner can keep you motivated and it always helps to train with someone and have a little fun while training.

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4. Have fun while running and training

It is very easy to get a little demotivated during the course of your training. Since this is something that you’ve chosen to do, look at it less as a task and consider it a lifestyle change that you’re accepting. The more you enjoy your runs, the faster your body will adjust to your training goal.

5. Fuel your body appropriately

Proper diet and fuelling are important aspects to training for a marathon. You need energy in the form of carbohydrates to see you through the long runs. It is not advisable to run on an empty stomach when preparing for the big day. An energy bar or banana can act as great fuel before long runs. You can consider carb loading before any of your longer runs in order to have sustained energy throughout your training.

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6. Stretching and strengthening your core

A strong core (the area around abs) will help you have a better posture while you run. This also minimises your chances of injuries. Stretching before and after completing your run and doing strength training for your core is the key to a successful marathon run.

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7. Prepare mentally

Getting your body in shape is vital, but while running a marathon can be quite a physical challenge, it also requires a great deal of mental preparation. Believing in yourself and your abilities can go a long way to readying your mind and body for the big day. It helps a great deal to self-motivate and the outcome after achieving your goal will do wonders for your confidence.