Six Ways to Prepare Yourself to Cross a Marathon Finish Line
With over 700 marathons scheduled in the U.S. alone in 2019, there’s no shortage of running enthusiasts and professionals who are up to the physical and mental challenge. Are you ready to join them? It’s important to recognize that, as much as you may enjoy hitting the treadmill at the gym every morning, running a marathon is no simple task and it takes more than stamina to finish one. Properly preparing yourself will not only help you cross that ticker tape, it will help you avoid dangerous injuries.
Here are our top six preparation recommendations:
- Be Realistic
A full marathon is 26.2 miles. To put that in perspective, that’s more than one-third the length of the Long Island Expressway and equal to 461.12 football fields. Next time you commute to work, check your mileage and imagine how long it would take to run. The average marathon finishing time across the globe is four hours and 26 minutes! If marathons were easy, everyone would do them. You need to be realistic about your level of fitness and dedication before you can really commit.
- Build Up to Your Mileage Goal Slowly
You can’t expect yourself to increase from your average five-mile run to 26 miles overnight. Not only is it an unfair expectation, it’s dangerous and can cause real damage to your body. Instead, build a base mileage, which means moderate runs on a consistent basis, and try not to increase your mileage by more than 10 percent each week. This will also give you a solid timeline—if you can run seven miles now, it will take you more than 11 weeks to even start training at 26.2 miles!
- Find a Training Buddy
Training with someone else will make you more accountable than solo runs, and training more enjoyable. It’s important to find a buddy who is in similar physical shape and is also dedicated to going the (26.2) miles, otherwise you may find yourself developing bad habits like skipping runs or, conversely, pushing yourself too hard to keep up.
- Mix Up Your Workout
It may sound counterintuitive, but there’s more to marathon training than just running. Sure, you need to hit that mile goal, but you also need to prepare your body for the intense physical demands of marathon training to avoid injury. Strength training before and after your run will help you build the fortitude and mobility training your body needs. Yoga is also highly recommended. In addition to the flexibility benefits of yoga, the psychological benefit cannot be overstated. When done properly, the true purpose of yoga is to learn how to be comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Learning how to remain calm and focused while (in yoga’s case) physically uncomfortable will pay large dividends during the marathon, when you just may want to quit.
- Get the Proper Nourishment
The average person burns 2,600 calories during a marathon—that’s more than an entire day’s nutritional target. Not only do you have to account for the nutrients you need to live, you also need to fuel your body if you want it in peak performance. It’s important to eat well throughout the day and also during any run over an hour. Some runners opt for gel chews that are packed with carbs and caffeine, while others go for snacks like bananas, bagels, and granola bars. Long distance running affects everyone’s digestion differently, so it’s important to find the food that works best for you.
- Listen to Your Body
There’s a big difference between “hitting the wall” and pure physical exhaustion or injury. Remember, you’re putting your body through extreme endurance challenges it may not be able to handle at first. Make sure you get plenty of rest and avoid training if you have any injuries, even minor ones. Pushing yourself too much, too soon, is a recipe for disaster.
If you’ve injured yourself training for a marathon—or during any other activity—contact the subspecialists at Orlin & Cohen, a leading Long Island orthopedic practice. Immediate appointments are available: Request yours now.