Marathon running is no walk in the park - in terms of exertion the two concepts are pretty much polar opposites. That said, running a marathon needn't be a lesson in self-abuse. With proper training and preparation, you can avoid marathon fatigue, make good time, and still feel grand (if tired) when you finish your race.
This isn't to say that running fatigue isn't a very real possibility, as any devoted runner can attest. Even the most experienced runners can push themselves too hard during a marathon or make other common mistakes that leave them too tired to finish the race. If you want to push yourself without exceeding that threshold, here are just a few tips to help you beat marathon fatigue.
Whether you're training for your first marathon or you're getting back into the swing of things after a break, it's important to work out a proper training routine in the weeks leading up to your race. This means creating a manageable schedule that gradually increases your distance and pace over the course of several weeks or months.
You can either seek out sample training templates online or hire a personal trainer to work your way up to the requisite 26.2 miles. Keep in mind that pushing yourself too hard could result in injury that derails your progress.
Going all out at the beginning of a race may put you at the head of the pack, but before long you're bound to burn out. You might not even be able to complete the race with this strategy, much less maintain a steady pace.
Pacing is one of the greatest hurdles (no pun intended) for marathon runners to overcome, so you need to pay attention to pacing during your training. Instead of breaking down your time per mile following runs, consider tracking mile splits to see the points at which you seem to be slowing. This can give you clues as to how to adjust your pacing to stay on track and avoid fatigue.
Do you find that your neck and shoulders are tense following a run, that you frequently suffer headaches the next day, or that lower back pain is your constant companion when you're training for a marathon? This could be related to your form while running. Correcting inconsistencies and errors in form could make a huge difference in your level of pain and how quickly you become fatigued during a run.
There's a reason seasoned runners pre-load on carbs the night before a marathon. They know they'll need the fuel to burn off during the race, but they don't want to eat a huge breakfast and risk feeling bloated and sick or needing the restroom during the marathon.
You may also need some fuel during the race, and it's best to try out different options well in advance to see which sources you prefer. Don't forget to practice proper hydration ahead of time, as well, so you know how much water you'll need before, during, and after your race.
When you're feeling ill, you probably don't spend all day staring at the ceiling and wondering when it will be over. Instead you distract yourself with movies and books to take your mind off your misery and help the time pass more quickly.
The same basic principle applies to coping with running fatigue. When you're logging dozens of miles each week training for marathons, it's all too easy for your mind to get bored and focus on that ache in your back, twinge in your knee, burning in your lungs, or sweat running uncomfortably down your sides.
When you become hyper-focused on the discomfort you're feeling physically, it can exacerbate the negatives and ruin your run. This is the last challenge you want to face when you're already fatigued partway through your marathon.
The good news is you can combat mental fatigue and boost your performance in a variety of ways. A fantastic playlist that gets you pumped is a good way to start, especially if you compile songs according to your plan for pacing.
You should also consider recruiting a running mate. This person can help you to set a pace and occupy your mind while you run with conversation. You can also challenge each other with friendly competition, helping you both to improve.