As I gear up to train for my upcoming half marathon, I look back and reflect on the two full marathons I have completed in the past. It has been almost two years since I was really running distance, I have been focusing on weights and cross-training
While thinking about my past races, I came across a few tips and tricks that make training a little easier and wanted to share with you! Whether you are just getting into running, training for your first race, or getting back into distance – these tips can alway anyone
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Here are 10 tips for marathon (or any race) training:
1. Get the Right Gear
Yes, this makes a huge difference. Getting the right running shoes, socks and clothing can really improve the quality of your runs!
My favorite running shoe brand is Saucony! I have run both my marathons in Saucony’s and cannot praise them enough for making high quality, durable and supportive running shoes. Everybody’s foot, arch and support needs are different- so I highly recommend going to a local running store and talking to someone who is knowledgable with running shoes so they can suggest the best one for you.
This way you get to try them on and get a feel for support and comfort before you make a purchase. I always shop for stability because I need a lot of support when running long miles. My favorite shoes are Saucony Liberty ISO!
It may seem silly but socks are very important when you start to increase your mileage. 10 miles of toes rubbing against the inside of your shoes is not fun… trust me. I have lost a toenail or two and the blisters only make the next run worse. Getting padded and thick socks help out tremendously, and there are some great socks on the market!
Running socks can get a little pricy so you don’t have to buy a pair for every day of the week but I would 100% recommend getting a few for longer distance runs and especially for race day- I would say that is a must! I haven’t tried a whole lot of running socks out because I already found my go-to pair.
This is the third but just as important category of gear I suggest investing in if you are getting into any kind of running. Your gear will differ depending on the weather you are running in but a good pair of bottoms and tops can make for a great run. I prefer pants because my legs chafe and shots cause too much adjustment and irritation during runs.
I suggest picking out clothing items that you are comfortable in so you don’t have to adjust them while running or worry about materials rubbing in the wrong places. I absolutely love running in Gymshark leggings- they never fall down and are super comfortable.
2. Find a Running Buddy
I believe this is KEY to long runs. Running is not only a physical challenge but a mental one as well. Have you ever heard “Your mind gives up before your body does?” It’s so true!
Training for my first ever marathon, I would run 15 miles I needed someone to talk to, to motivate me and to go through the training with me. I luckily had a running buddy to do all my runs with. This was a huge help… making conversation and just have another person going through the same thing with you makes everything go by easy faster and much easier. A lot of gyms or communities will have running groups, this is a great alternative if you can’t convince one of your friends to run crazy distances!
3. Use a Mantra
What is a mantra? Well, it’s a slogan or saying often used to aid concentration during meditation. Basically, a little motivational saying to help you through times of struggles and there will be times of struggles.
The whole purpose of running and challenging yourself is to get better, faster or stronger! So everyone is going to have struggles- that’s what makes the results oh so worth it. A lot of elite runners have a mantra and swear they work wonders. The conscious and subconscious are often being driven by your thoughts! So positive ones are key to helping you through long runs. Here are some examples of awesome running mantras:
- “As it gets harder, I get stronger”
- “All miles are good miles”
- “I kill hills”
- “Just do it”
- “One more mile”
- “Pain is just weakness leaving my body”
4. Stay Hydrated
YES! Can’t stress this enough and it is something I am definitely working on. When you are running 6,7,8 miles at a time it takes a lot out of you- including sweat! During your runs you’re going to sweat a sh*t ton even when you are running in colder weather, you just may not notice it. The body needs to replace all that lost water. You need to hydrate before, during and after your run- basically all day.
A good tip is to get a reusable water bottle (go green!) so you can carry it around with you where ever you are. I personally drink a lot more water throughout the day when I always have it sitting infant of me. Easy access, ya know! You want to hydrate before a so you (and your body) are prepared for your run – hydrate during to replace the sweat you lost- hydrate after cause lets be honest, you probably didn’t hydrate enough during your run! I always carry around my CamelBak water bottle, I bring it to work, home than the gym. It never leaves my side and they have some cute colors and patterns!
5. Gradually Increase Your Mileage
You are not going to suddenly be able to run 10 miles overnight, training or getting into distance running is definitely a journey! It is important to give yourself enough time to train. I spent 6 months training before I ran my first marathon- make sure you do some research or find a running guide to give you suggested miles.
The biggest tip I have for your miles is to make sure you gradually increase your mileage while also including cutbacks. What I mean by that is set up your week like this:
- Monday- 2 miles
- Tuesday- 3 Miles
- Wednesday – 5 Miles
- Thursday- 2 Miles
- Friday- Rest
- Saturday – 7 Miles
- Sunday – Rest
(Obvi distance will be different depending on what week you are on our what your fitness level is) BUT as you can see – you want to build your self up and then cut back so you are not putting a crazy amount of stress on your body. You will notice quickly how tired and sore your legs will become just from running.
You can find a lot of free training courses online that will provide you week by week mileage -a lot of them are 3 months so I recommend really looking around to find something a little longer if you are new to running.
6. Listen to Your Body
Let me just start off by saying is perfectly OK to walk! During my training to prepare for 26.2 walking actually helped me a lot when I would go out and run my long runs on Saturday. It is very hard to go out and run 16+ miles without walking once, especially for a beginner.
Don’t feel like you aren’t getting in good training if you walk for a mile or two during an 18-mile run, I think that is perfectly normal and helpful for training. If you push your self to the point of exhaustion it can be harder for your body to recover and may end up taking a bigger tole on you than expected. Once you build yourself up to longer runs and your body adapts and can laster longer, you can make it farther without walking. But here is what I suggest and what worked the best for me! During your longer runs for the week I would keep running at your desired pace until you start to get tired, then pick a time (like 5 minutes) or a landmark (like a building in the near distance) and after the time is up or you reach the item you choose you start running again!
Walk as many times as you would like during a long run as long as you are still pushing yourself to get better bit by bit. Drink lots of water during and after (this is so important!!!)
7. Pace Yourself
Unless you have crazy endurance and are a freak of nature- you probably won’t run 8-minute miles for your first race. It is important to pace yourself, running 13.1 or 26.2 miles takes a lot out of your body so I wouldn’t expect that you will keep an insanely fast pace during your first race.
When I was completing my first ever marathon I started out at 9:30 minutes miles, which eventually turned into 10 and towards the end of the race I was doing 11-12 minute miles. I think that is totally A-OK! Completing any distance that is a challenge for yourself is a super super super amazing accomplishment no matter how fast you finished! The time it took is only a benchmark for yourself to get better- that is how I look at it.
8. Cross Train
It is easy for me to get bored when you go out and run for a 1:30 hours. I usually like to train outside (if the weather isn’t freezing) because treadmills make my running so mundane. I do a fair amount of cross training when I am preparing for races.
You can do anything from 20 minutes on the elliptical, an hour yoga session, going outside for a walk- really anything to get you active! I personally don’t suggest weights but that is just me. It is super hard for me to have good runs when my body is fore from lifting so I tend to stay away from that when training. Cross training is also important for runners because it gives your joints a break from the stress running puts on your body. It gives you a chance to switch things up, build strength and improve flexibility!
9. Fuel Your Body with Proper Nutrition
YES! Proper nutrition is key. Going out and running 6, 7, 8 miles at a time burns up a lot of energy so you need to replace that in a healthy way. Just because you burned a lot doesn’t mean you should go home and stuff your face with greasy foods and desserts. I recommend keeping an 80/20 diet. Eating healthy and nutritious foods 80% of the time, while still indulging in “not so healthy” foods you love 20% of the time.
Because you are burning so much energy you will want to consume complex carbs to replace what you lost and also prepare you for your next run. I noticed the times I would eat poorly I would not have the best or most successful runs compared to when I was fully hydrated and fueling my body with the proper things. Everyone is different so you just have to find out what foods and things work best for you.
10. Have Fun & Schedule A Victory Massage
Having fun during the process and race day is also a huge key. You just trained for 5 maybe 6 months you should be running with a smile on your face, dancing to your music and cheering yourself on! The race may be painful but crossing the finish line is the best feeling ever and I will warn you, the second I did was when I decided I was going to run a second marathon.
I will be honest. It hurt to walk for about a week after my first marathon. The course was pretty hilly which completely destroyed my legs- not to mention the 5 hours beating/pounding my body went through. My toes hurt to touch from slamming into the front of my shoes for 26.2 miles. Every part of my legs hurt from the hills and distance, yes every part (hips, thighs, calves, and ankles!) I would suggest scheduling yourself a victory message 🙂 because you 1000% deserve it and it will really help roll your muscles out.
If it were me, I would wait at least a week so you can fully enjoy the message and it doesn’t turn into something super painful. Of course, everyone recovers at different paces so it just depends on when you are feeling good but need a little extra push to recover your body. Plus massages are freaking amazing and any excuse to get one is a good excuse
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