Anyone who has ever participated in a marathon will tell you that it is one of the most rewarding and satisfying events you can be a part of. It is, however, a lot of work. Here are 6 fool proof methods for training for a marathon:
#1: Allow Plenty of Time to Train
Experts advise prospective marathoners to train at least one year before the event. It is important to remember a marathon is 26.2 miles. It is not something you can prepare for overnight so planning needs to begin now.
#2: Implement a Base Mileage Plan
The base mileage plan is a weekly chart of runs over time that eventually get you to the 26.2 marathon mark. It is suggested that you run three to five times per week as a casual pace where you could maintain a conversation while jogging/running. The goal is to increase weekly running mileage, but never increase the weekly mileage by more than 10 percent from week to week.
#3: Introduce Long Runs
The long run is something you incorporate in-between base mileage exercises every 7 to 10 days. The long run should increase every occurrence by a mile or two. Then, you start to scale it back every three weeks in order to not overwork your body.
Start small: Running a few shorter races—5Ks, 10Ks, or even a half marathon—is an excellent way to prepare physically and mentally for a first marathon. For more information, see our Expert Advice article, 10K and Half Marathon: Training Tips and Exercises.
Choosing a First Marathon
#4: Sign-Up For Shorter Races
In order to break up the monotony of daily training it is suggested you sign-up for a few shorter races before the big event. Participating in 5Ks or 10Ks is an excellent way to train while also getting the adrenaline and excitement from a competition environment.
#5: Introduce Interval Training
Not all marathoners utilize interval or speed training yet a few are adamant that it helps significantly. Speed work increases your aerobic capacity when you hit that notorious ‘wall’ around mile 20. The concept is that you run specifically defined intervals of short distance at a very fast pace, breaking it up with recovery jogs in-between.
#6: Allow Time for Recovery
It is easy to get absorbed in the length of a marathon and falsely believe that you need to run daily in order to succeed. The truth is you must have recovery days. No running, period. Remember that the greatest enemy to any aspiring marathoner is injury, and over-training is a surefire way to get injured long before race day.