Wanting to cover the incredible 26.2 miles? Then you need some marathon running tips. Running a marathon is quite a feat, but the main work is in the training and preparation. Marathon running is often compared to having a baby. The delivery itself is what many people talk about, but the nine months before that count just as much, maybe even more so! Any runner, new or experienced can use some marathon training tips to make sure that the road to the Big Race is the most efficient and effective possible.
Marathon Running Tip #1: Mileage Ahead Of Speed
Training for a marathon means lots of running. But before you get fast, you need to be able to build that all important base. So do not even attempt speed work unless you are well experienced. As a new runner you are much better off focusing on easy running. That should be the core of your training. You first need to be able to cover the distance. Only then are you ready for bigger and better things (i.e. speed). So, make sure you get the mileage in before you do anything else.
Marathon Running Tip #2: Long Runs
One crucial ingredient of your marathon running preparation is the long run. The general rule of thumb is that you do about five or six runs of twenty miles in your training. This is crucial in teaching your body to improve its fuel burning processes and to lengthen the time you can run on easy carbohydrates. When you run out of carbohydrates, your body needs to move on to burning fat which is a lot tougher. This is the moment you will feel that you are running on empty or, as they say, the “man with the hammer” comes to visit.
Now, newer training methods suggest that the long run is not as important as traditionally believed. And it is true, if you would do only 40 miles per week, and so your long run would be 50% of your weekly mileage, then that long run becomes incredibly tough on the body. When you are on low weekly mileage you may in fact be better off not doing the long runs of 20 miles, but to make them slightly shorter, e.g. 16 miles. But that would then mean that you would have to do more middle-long runs, and/or higher intensity long runs to make up for this.
Marathon Running Tip #3: Middle – Long Runs
Your marathon performance will benefit tremendously of a second long run, shorter than the longest run. Your body needs to build up that exposure to longer runs. So try to fit in as many runs over 90 minutes as you can handle and can fit in. Training runs over 90 minutes will help your body change its fuel burning processes.
Marathon Running Tip #4: Taper
To be optimally prepared for race day you should taper. After all, marathon training will make you very tired. If you want fresh legs, cut back your training load in the last three weeks before the race. Also make sure your last 20-miler is at least three weeks before the race.
If for some reason your schedule gets muddled up, do not give in to the temptation to run your 20-miler the next weekend, i.e. two weeks ahead of the race. It is far better to start the race with fresh legs, even though a little underprepared, than to start with tired legs.
Your main marathon training is done 1 – 6 months out from race day. So do not try to increase your mileage at the last minute in the weeks before the marathon. It may give you some extra confidence that you have done what you needed to do in training, but in fact it will back-fire because you will simply be tired when you do your race.
Marathon Running Tip #5: Be Clever With Food
Because marathon training is so tough, you need to make sure you eat well. Make sure you get in enough carbs. This is your fuel. In the week before the race you will want to hydrate well and take in more than your usual amount of carbohydrates. But don’t stuff yourself. You want to have plenty of energy, but not feel sluggish.
Also keep in mind that you will need to re-fuel during the race. You should know exactly what you are eating and when. And you need to try in training everything you want to eat before and during the marathon. Whether it is bars, gels, sports drinks or “real food”. When you get stomach cramps during your marathon because you are eating something that you have never tried during running before, there is nobody to blame but yourself. So make sure you are well prepared in everything having to do with your marathon, including your food intake!
The marathon is an amazing event, with a great attraction to the young and old, the fit and unfit. Whether you are an elite runner or a beginner, the marathon will take it all out of you. So make sure you are optimally prepared with the marathon running tips above and combine these with a positive attitude. You must believe in yourself and know that you can accomplish great things, such that when the going gets tough in those last few miles, you keep on going!