Did you know less than one percent of Americans have run a marathon?
Finishing a marathon is a significant life accomplishment. Runners spend months preparing their bodies and minds for a seemingly impossible 26.2 mile-long journey.
About 35 percent of the runners in all races are first time marathoners, and most of them cross the finish line. But if you've never run a marathon before, there are certain steps you can take to get the most out of your experience.
Looking for ways to get a leg up on the competition? Read on for 12 tips that will help you prepare for your very first marathon!
If you're going to run a marathon, you need to stay organized. A training log can help you keep track of your performance.
After every training session, write down your mileage and times in your training log. In the comment section, describe how you feel.
Make sure to include important information related to nutrition and sleep as well.
For example, if you didn't get enough sleep the previous night, make a note of it. If you ever find yourself in a slump, your training log can help you pinpoint the cause.
Overtraining is one of the most common mistakes first time marathoners make.
As much as you may like to run every day of the week, actually going through with it is simply a bad idea. Over time, too much running can lead to nagging injuries such as IT band syndrome and runner's knee.
To prevent injuries, try cross training about one or two times per week. This helps maintain your fitness while allowing your body to recover.
Some excellent cross-training activities include swimming, kayaking, and biking.
When you run for a long period of time, fluids can build up in your extremities. This can cause your feet to swell.
As a result, it's a good idea to buy new running shoes that are at least half a size bigger than what you normally wear. This gives your toes extra room to move around. Plus, it allows your feet to flex properly.
According to the 10-percent rule, a runner should never increase their mileage by more than 10 percent per week.
So if you're only running 10 miles now, you only want to go up to 11 miles next week. Within two months, you'll be running twice as much.
Like cross-training, this approach reduces your chance of developing an injury. It also helps you stick to your schedule.
Measure your resting pulse after waking up in the morning. Write the number down in your training log.
After a week, add it all up and calculate the average. Consider this your baseline resting heart rate. As you become fitter, your resting heart rate should decrease.
If you ever notice your resting heart rate spiking, slow down your training a bit. This may signal illness or fatigue.
It's important to get acclimated to the pace you're going to run during the marathon. For best results, get yourself a watch that informs you of your time per mile.
When you run the marathon, the best thing to do is to completely ignore everyone else around you. Commit to your pace.
About a month prior to the marathon, begin to taper your training. Tapering allows your body to be at full-strength on the day of the big race.
The key to tapering properly is to reduce your mileage gradually while maintaining your intensity. Push your body just as hard as you did up to that point, but cut a few miles each week.
By the third week of tapering, you should significantly reduce your weekly mileage. Considering doing a two-mile run the day before the marathon to stimulate your central nervous system.
During the late stages of your first marathon, your body may begin to slouch. If it becomes severe, you will end up slowing down quite a bit.
To minimize this, train your abs once or twice per week. Simple core stability exercises like planks and crunches can make a huge difference.
Spend time during your training to figure out how much water you need to drink at each water station.
Use the temperature to adjust your water intake during the day of the marathon. During an exceptionally hot day, prepare to drink more.
Recovery is just as important as the quality of your training. It's critical to get seven to nine hours of sleep as it can impact your performance.
Due to the fact that marathon training pushes your body to its limits, your immune system will be put to the test. Keep in mind that a lack of sleep weakens your immune system.
It's important for first time marathoners to train on their own. However, don't rule out mixing things up and running with a group as well.
Training with others makes it easier to hold yourself accountable for missing a day.
A little friendly competition can also end up boosting your performance. Plus, you may end up picking up a few tips and tricks from those who are more advanced than you.
First time marathoners shouldn't worry about their time or performance at all.
Instead, focus your effort on finishing the race. Also, take the necessary precautions to avoid injuries, and enjoy the overall experience as much as you can.
Save any other goals for future marathons. There will be plenty of opportunities to improve your time later. But you'll most likely remember this race for the rest of your life.
When the day of the big race finally rolls around, keep in mind that it's ok to be nervous.
To overcome stress, read over your training log. Think about how much hard work you put in to get to that point.
Also, don't try anything new on the day of the marathon. Instead of questioning yourself, just stick to what worked during the last few months of training.
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