Marathon Training Tips!
Updated: Apr 21, 2020
I ran my first marathon back in 2015. It was the Chicago Marathon, and my roommate and I had dreamed for so long of running such an important race. The summer leading up to the race, we were determined to begin training and knock the race out of the park. Throughout the summer we found ourselves putting off the long runs and important training days. We would still regularly run 3-8 miles, but severely neglected the long runs. We sprinkled a few long runs in just in time for the marathon, but nothing notable enough to make a lasting impact on our training. The night before we sobbed tears of anxiety as the reality of running 26.2 miles set in. We had spent too much money on this day to back out now. We laid down $200 for the race itself, in addition to being unable to control ourselves with spending at the expo on clothing, gear and race nutrition etc. Also, our families were attending the big day so there was no way out. At the end of the day, we just needed to get out there and do our best and finish the race. To this day we still joke that we “blacked out” that whole day because of the excruciating pain and lack of preparation we truly had.
What I’m trying to say is that if you’re planning on running a marathon, you need to train. Unless you can willy nilly run a marathon, you need to train.
In 2018 I ran my second marathon. This time, I dedicated my entire summer/fall to training and preparing. I ran the best time I could imagine. Yes, there was still pain and agony, but the results couldn’t have been better.
With only about a month away until two of the biggest marathons in the Midwest- Chicago and Detroit, I figured I’d share some top tips for preparing for the big day, so you don’t make the same mistakes I made!
Start training early- you will definitely set yourself up for success if you start training as early as you can! That doesn’t necessarily have to involve running. It could be any workout or training that builds your endurance or stamina. Create a training plan, including your running schedule and distances you want to tackle each week.
Mentally prepare yourself- you could do everything and anything to be physically fit and prepared for the marathon, but mentally if you’re not there you won’t make it through. It’s so important to have a positive mindset, especially on the long runs. It takes dedication and passion to push yourself through and the right mindset to carry you through when your legs want to give up.
Stretch frequently- you’re body will thank you later for this one!
Take rest/recovery days- your body won’t thrive on running 7x week. Take rest days when needed and allow yourself to go for walks, take a swim, do some yoga if your body isn’t in the mood to carry you through a run. Recovery and rest days will still actively play into your training- trust me, they will make you stronger in the end by allowing your body to recoup.
Lean into your body’s cravings and changes- now I don’t mean go crazy on the carbs/eat whatever you want just because you’re training for a marathon. But your body will have different needs than what you’re used to and it’s okay to lean into that. Trust your body knows what it needs and take a mindful approach to those changes.
Practice runs with nutrition- the worst thing that (I’m sure there are worse) but one of the worst things that could happen during a marathon is that you have to shit your pants. The bathroom lines are so long that nobody got time for that. During training, learn what foods fuel your body and make you feel good throughout, as well as the gel or gummies that you’ll be using during the run. Have a game plan for the real day and be 100% confident in your schedule for eating and drinking water/gatorade!
Have support- during one of my long runs, I wasn’t able to join my running group and knew I needed someone to come along with me. My mom rode her bike with me for 17 miles as I ran, and then she joined me in running the last 3. Without support, I would have given up so many miles earlier. Have people in your life that will encourage your training and even come along with you.
Get tons of sleep- this one will catch up to you. Sleep is so important for the body to recover properly. Training for a marathon is grueling on the body and sleep will help you maintain that energy you need!
Maybe I’ll run another marathon again, maybe I won’t. But whether you’re running a half or a full, keep these tips in mind and you’ll be set up for success! I’m a firm believer that anyone can run a half or a full marathon. Never ran a day in your life? No problem. Just train long and hard and remember it won’t be easy. So get out there today and start your Monday off right!