A marathon is a challenging physical activity that speaks volumes about the limitless potential human beings have. Surely, it is not impossible to run 42km on a stretch, but it is not a cakewalk either. There are so many races an individual can participate in, without any training or hard work. But, it is humanly not possible to complete, leave alone compete, a marathon without practicing for it.
Long distance runners participate in very few marathons in a year, and for each one of it, they work extremely hard and put in a great amount of effort just get into the right physical condition. If it is so difficult for a professional, imagine how difficult it might be for a rookie who is running a marathon for the first time?
For beginners, this task is extremely difficult, but certainly not impossible! And if the resolution is strong enough, even a first timer can do well with the perfect training strategy. Here’s an ideal regimen that can assist you to accomplish your first big race!
You need have at least 4 months up your sleeve to get ready for the marathon. In that, the first 20 days must be dedicated to conditioning exercises and light jogging. This helps you not only in getting into the groove for long distance running but also prepares your body for the upcoming wear and tear.
Once you are done with the 3-week conditioning regime, get ready for some long-distance running. Hereon, your sessions will be thrice a week with alternate day running with a rest day after each run. A ‘run day’ must test you. If you are capable of running 5 kilometers on a stretch, go for 6, then 7 and keep adding the miles as you progress. The rest days aren’t really for resting, constant conditioning must be practiced as a few stretches and exercises must be a part of your ‘rest’. Dedicate 3 weeks to this.
One might argue how would a 6-7km practice run get you to a finish line that is 42kms away? The postconditioning run builds stamina and physical strength that is required to run for longer distances. Once that is practiced well, jump to the run-walk method.
The run-walk method is an ideal way to prepare for your first marathon. In this method, you run for 30 seconds and walk for 30 seconds, then run again for 30 seconds and so on. Make sure you have a good digital watch to hear those half minute beeps. Do not limit the distance of your run as you would in the postconditioning run, rather set yourself free and run as much as you want.
This method not only conserves your energy but also helps you to cover long distances with comparative ease. Do this for 4- weeks, every alternate day.
Exercises that matter:
As you take a day break between your run-walk regime, utilize that rest time to build your body. Here are a few activities you can add to your exercise regimen every rest day-
- Leg strengthening exercises
- Core strengthening exercises
- Strength exercises with weights
Practice them for an hour at least and make sure that they don’t exhaust you. Always keep in mind that you are set to go on a run the very next morning.
Next 3 weeks will have you rest more as you sweat more! Make sure you go for 2 long runs (20km or more) twice a week with a gap of 3 days between each run. This will build your mettle and will rig-up your psyche. You will build confidence and get the feel of going the distance. You can always go for longer distances than the one suggested, it completely depends on how your body responds.
Take absolute rest for a day before and after the long run. For the spare day in between, you have to hit the park and continue with your core and leg strengthening exercises. The core has a major role to play in your stability and momentum throughout the race!
The last 3 weeks are extremely crucial for your conditioning and well-being. You will need more rest as marathon day is just about to arrive. Dedicate the first day of the first two weeks towards running over 30kms or even 42kms. Get the feel of the race. Keep your focus high and keep an eye on your performance- when do you feel low, do you get dehydrated etc.
Note the problems you face and try to overcome them in the next long run, you final run before race day. Make sure you hit your potential best in order to build confidence.
Spend the remaining days with constant exercises and gentle runs of up to 2kms. Do not exhaust yourself. Compulsorily take a full day rest after the long run.
Indulge in 2 5km runs to keep your body in peak condition. Perform light warm-up and stretching exercises in the final 3 days. You should be ready to go!
It is ideal to have a competition with yourself and it is the fire to outdo yourself that helps you in completing the race. This is a race of patience and poise. It doesn’t matter if you are slow, but keep in mind you have to keep moving forward to make it to the flag.