Preparation for the marathon: the 10 best tips

Among all the variety of rules and recommendations, we have chosen the most important and compiled the top 10 tips for preparing for a marathon.

How to prepare for a marathon and avoid injuries? This question will inevitably be asked by anyone considering running a marathon. Sometimes it is enough to follow a few simple rules to get the most out of running and minimize the difficulties in training and the race itself.

Preparation for the marathon: the 10 best tips
photo: marathon “White Nights”

1. Progress gradually

The general rule for increasing daily mileage and total weekly mileage is the 10% rule: you should not increase your total weekly mileage by more than 10% each week. This rule underpins most training plans and helps put the brakes on overambitious runners.

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Beginners should start with realistic goals – 5k, then 10k, half marathon, and only then set the marathon distance as their training goal. The body as a whole, as well as the ligaments, tendons and joints, must gradually prepare for increasing physical exertion. Too many training plans are thwarted due to excessive fatigue, burnout or injury.

2. Stick to a preparedness plan

For beginners in marathon running, it is advisable to draw up a training plan. There are now a large number of different training plans. Each of them has its own aesthetic nuances, interface characteristics and specifics in terms of complexity and intensity. But they are all built according to the initial training and abilities of each rider.

Most training plans involve at least 20-24 weeks of preparation for a marathon start. However, the week in these plans will be full of running workouts of varying intensity, and the weekend will include the so-called “long workouts”, ultimately bringing you closer to the coveted distance of 42km 195m.

3. Pay attention to nutrition

Preparing for a marathon does not mean that you can now consume incredible amounts of unhealthy high-calorie foods, which means that our body now needs a lot of “fuel”. It’s true that training for a marathon burns a lot of calories, but to stay healthy and train actively, you need to eat whole, healthy foods.

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During and after long workouts, you should develop your own diet of strengthening foods. The digestive system, like the rest of the body, is under extreme stress over long distances. After 1-1.5 hours of training, you can pamper yourself, but very reasonably.

4. Find like-minded people

There is a risk that if you manage to make friends who, like you, are preparing for a marathon or already have a similar experience, it will be quite difficult for you – they will torture you with advice. But nevertheless, each person needs support not only from relatives and friends.

In a subject as difficult as the preparation of a marathon, the information and the emotional participation of those who are “in the know” are of particular importance. If your friends and family are away from running, try to find like-minded people in running communities on social media, running clubs or, in the end, meet runners running in the park where you usually train.

5. Plan your race strategy

On marathon day, each of us focuses on our own pace, developed during training. But it’s important to be realistic and adjust the pace based on your own well-being.

Sometimes starting a marathon (or long distance) can be frustratingly slower than expected, but that doesn’t mean the plan for the overall outcome will be derailed. Conversely, intense starting can lead to unnecessary overvoltage in the future. The main thing is to correctly distribute the forces over such a long distance.

Of course, a marathon runner should stick to their nutrition and hydration plan while running. A smart nutritional strategy can avoid the overuse of muscles (particularly quadriceps and calves) that marathon runners often suffer from in the final mile.

Dehydration is inevitable over long distances, but according to the latest research, preventing excessive fluid intake is more important than staying mildly dehydrated.

Until recently, the standard recommendation for marathon hydration was to drink a certain amount of fluid every 15 minutes. But such tactics can lead to a very dangerous state of hyponatremia, in which the concentration of sodium ions in the blood plasma decreases and the kidneys are unable to remove excess fluid. It is also called “water poisoning”. Therefore, it is now recommended to drink water over long distances only according to your own feeling of thirst.

Fluid loss of 1-2% of one’s own weight is not dangerous for humans. And this rule applies to all liquids, including special sports drinks. However, dehydration of 4-6% of one’s own weight is dangerous enough. Here, it is important to stick to the happy medium, to properly assess your condition and to take into account a factor such as hot weather at the start.

A very important point is the competent preparation of materials and equipment on the eve of departure. The morning should be free for a proper and nutritious breakfast two to three hours before the start of the race. And a week before departure, it is advisable to sleep regularly enough.

6. Don’t Forget Recovery

Recovery is a very important element in training. It’s ironic because when you think of working out, you don’t exactly imagine yourself sitting on the couch. However, if you don’t give your body the chance to recover, you not only risk injury and health problems, but also become familiar with the so-called “overtraining syndrome”, which results in a sharp decrease in motivation for training, reduced immunity and even depression. .

To prevent this syndrome, the training plan must include at least one day of rest per week. And weeks of intense training should alternate with shorter, less intense weeks of training. You shouldn’t overload yourself heavily in the last two or three weeks before the marathon. The result of the workout plan should be self-confidence, not exhaustion.

Pay attention to food. The body must receive a sufficient, but not excessive, amount of carbohydrates and proteins for the proper functioning of the muscular apparatus and the restoration of glycogen stores in the muscles and liver. Glycogen is a form of glucose that provides a rapidly mobilized energy reserve for active physical exertion.

According to the results of modern research, it is currently recommended to consume a mandatory meal within two hours, and ideally within 30 to 45 minutes after the race.

7. Choose your running shoes

It is necessary to find not only comfortable shoes for training and starting, but it is important to take into account a number of factors. The structure of the foot and the biomechanical characteristics of each person are individual. At present, it is possible to select running shoes in specialized running laboratories, according to pronation (the natural cushioning mechanism of the foot) and the type of running (toe, heel or full foot) .

The question of footwear comfort is also an important element when choosing. To do this, you will most likely have to choose, focusing only on your own feelings, among several pairs offered by experts.

A reasonable and very useful recommendation is to choose a size larger than what you usually wear. Running long distances inevitably leads to swollen feet. It is not recommended to go to the start in a new pair. Shoes should be tested several times during training. It is also not recommended to allow excessive wear of running shoes.

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8. Do a variety of exercises

Most often, the occurrence of sports injuries in beginners is associated with a relatively rapid increase in muscle strength and a rather slow adaptation to increasing loads on the ligamentous tendon apparatus. To eliminate this imbalance, it is necessary to perform special running exercises (SBU).

The sets of exercises recommended in various running programs are a combination of stretching and strength exercises to strengthen the muscles and ligaments of the ankles, knees, hips, and hip joints.

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9. Listen to your body

You must learn to correctly recognize your own body’s signals: when you need to rest, and when, on the contrary, you need to push. You can and should not pay attention to small pains that pass after a few seconds while running or after a day or two of rest.

Do not overlook pain that stops you in the middle of a run or that persists after a few days of rest. In this case, you need to contact a specialist. Sports doctors have the most experience in this area. More often than not, a little rest and rehabilitation at an early stage gives a good chance of a quick recovery, and ignoring leads to worsening and then prolonged treatment.

10. Enjoy the process!

It is impossible to assess all the risks in preparing for a marathon. In addition to physiological moments, you may encounter difficulties in our daily lives that may interfere with your training plan. But one of the important elements of success is a positive attitude, both for success and for possible failures and difficulties.

Training and everything about your plans to finish a marathon should be fun for you!

Also read: Complete beginner’s guide to running