It’s Wednesday morning and my alarm is buzzing me awake at 5:45 AM. I roll over, awakened from my slumber, and push snooze. Eight short minutes later the alarm buzzes me awake once again. With eyes slightly open I lay in bed having an internal battle on whether I should wake up to run 4, 6, 8 miles or go back to sleep. The decision that drives me to get out of bed for a morning run is the decision that has kept me running these last 10 years. It is not the long hours of training, the races, or the physical fitness that comes with regular exercise but rather, the mental clarity.
The mental clarity helps to put me on the right path for the day and for my future. Even though I run because I enjoy running and I run marathon’s because I love the challenge, running for mental clarity, a few miles a day, versus running a marathon, are two completely different things. With my marathon fast approaching, two months away, I run for me, for my health, for my mind and for the challenge.
However, running a marathon is not something you just “run” into. It takes a veteran runner to train for a marathon. Not to say that only natural born runners can run a marathon but rather, it takes some running experience to train for a marathon without injury.
Steps to Marathon Training
- Establish a regular running routine.
Run 3-4 times a week averaging 3-6 miles per run with a total of 15 miles/week. This helps to build muscles and muscle memory while working out the running “kinks.”
- Start running races.
Races are different than running workouts. You have adrenaline pumping through your body. Along with spectators, a different course, and other runners to think about. Start slow by getting use to the race environment itself with 5K’s and 10K’s.
- Increase mileage.
After the 3-6 miles becomes comfortable start pushing your body to run 10-13 miles. Increase mileage by 10% a week only to prevent injury by over training. With confidence, you are now ready for a half-marathon (approximately 6-12 months later).
- Sign up for a marathon.
Find a marathon in a location that you know. It is better to know the location, and train in similar climates/terrains so you know what to expect. If you live in Nebraska and sign up for a marathon in Georgia your marathon experience will probably not be pleasant. The weather is different (humidity, strength of the sun, temperature, etc.) as well as the terrain (hilly, flat, etc.). Don’t go for destination marathons right away.
- Train for a marathon.
There are many marathon training schedules out there. However, not all of these training schedules work for every person. Due to my work life, personal life, and prior running experience, I can not run 5-6 times per week. My body needs a longer time to recover. Listen to your body and adjust your running schedule as needed. Make sure to still run 3-4 times a week with one long run, three weeks in a row, followed by a low mileage week for recovery. Ice, stretch and keep your body hydrated, healthy, and fully of fuel!
Until next time, more on marathon training and nutrition for peak performance!