There are a lot of things to think about when running (and training for) your first marathon. Here are 5 things that are the most important to me.
1. Have a plan
Start by creating a training plan that suits your current fitness level and gradually increases your mileage over time. Include a mix of easy runs, long runs, speed workouts, and cross-training activities to improve your endurance and prevent injuries. Follow the golden rule of keeping 80% of your runs easy(zone 2).
Incorporating cross-training activities such as cycling, swimming, or strength training into your routine can help prevent overuse injuries and improve overall fitness. Strengthening your core and leg muscles through strength training can also enhance your running performance. And incorporate some kind of vertical training, at least every now and then. Hills will kill your legs in a race if you’re not used to running uphill.
2. Gradually increase mileage
Avoid the temptation to increase your mileage too quickly, as it can lead to overuse injuries. Gradually increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% per week. This approach allows your body to adapt and minimize the risk of injury, and might mentally make it easier as you’re not making too big of a jump in mileage.
3. Stay consistent
Consistency is key when training for a marathon. Stick to your training schedule as much as possible, even when you’re feeling tired or unmotivated. Regularly running and following your training plan will help you build the necessary stamina and mental toughness for race day.
Besides the mental aspect of staying consistent, I personally feel like staying consistent benefits my running more. What I mean is I think it is better to run shorter runs more often than running fewer but longer runs.
4. Prepare for race day
Fueling your body with the right nutrition is essential during marathon training. Eat a balanced diet rich in carbohydrates, healthy fats, and proteins to support your energy levels and aid in recovery.