Thursday, February 14, 2013

How to Train for Your First Marathon

doing my hill training with a pack
Running can be a tough mental and physical ordeal although the rewards are high. But, once you start running, you tend to level up your goal from speed to distance. And, what could be the pinnacle of running other than completing a marathon.

I have run my first ultra - marathon of 63km spanning from General Santos City to Koronadal City with around 11 hours of walking, running and enduring hip pain and blisters.

Training for a marathon is not an easy feat. In fact, it will consume your resources, your time and physical strength. But, with right mindset, proper training, support systems, marathon can be fun and overwhelming.

So, as I conquer my first official marathon in few weeks' time, let me share what I do follow as I prepare for the dreaded 42km.

  • Build distance gradually. I have been running since 2008 but had seriously joined competitions only in 2011 with 21km as the farthest distance earning it around 2:16 with 2:08 as my best time. I started with the typical walk - run of 3km - 5km - 10km - 16km - 21km route. 
  • Improve running form. We can be more efficient if we mind our running form and that includes running on midfoot, high cadence, more steps in a minute, leaning forward, swinging my arms for faster leg turn. You can see a running form video from Youtube.
  • Invest on good shoes and running socks. To do away with injury like ankle or knee and blisters, getting the right gears can help a lot to make running or your  marathon comfortable.
  • Acquire the right program. Having a target date for a marathon can be your goal, and acquiring a marathon program around this date can be smart. A beginner's program can cover 18 - 20 weeks of training.  Don't overdo nor under train. Incorporate cross training like yoga, swimming or cycling that would provide you with diversion from running. 
  • Improve your speed and level up your distance. With interval and tempo trainings, you get to enhance your speed. However, increase your record gradually as doing the speed trainings more than your heart beat limits can endure can be quite dangerous. So, seek your doctor's help  to guide you including breathing and minding your heart.  By the book, we only increase our speed or distance by 10%.
  • Invest on running gadgets like a pedometer and stop watch.  Document your runs and the records can be quite motivating. 
  • Get a support system. With a training coach or running group, you can be motivated to train properly and regularly. Having your family to support you with your goal can be quite inspiring. Train harder but you can also have fun in between. 
  • Pamper yourself for a good train.  After 5 - 6 days of training, enjoy a day or two of full rest, not only that you let your body heal but this would also break the routine and get you recharged for the next week.
  • Invest on core conditioning. Running for hours can put a strain on our hips and legs, some numbness too. With right core conditioning like push-ups and planking among others, you improve your endurance and limit yourself from getting the discomfort of running the distance. Do this only under the supervision of a coach.
We may have different goals for joining a marathon, this may mean setting a faster time, finishing strong or simply completing the race. Regardless of your goal, bottomline is we enjoy the race and we reach the finish line injury - free.


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