5 Tips for Preparing Before Running a Marathon

Marathon running is a uniquely rewarding sport. Marathon running is an amazing way to build your body’s strength and endurance. The mental aspect of marathon running is also important. When preparing for a marathon, there are many considerations that should be taken into account.

Chief John Vinson, a highly experienced runner with over 100 marathons under his belt, shares 5 things that all runners should do before participating in a marathon.

1. Carb-Load Thoughtfully

Many people are aware that runners are traditionally told to load up on carbohydrates before a big race. However, according to Chief John Vinson, some runners take this to extremes and can make themselves sick with too heavy of a meal. It is better to have smaller meals throughout the day and to make sure that all of them have higher carbohydrate content and less vegetables, fat, and protein. If a runner approaches fueling up with the wrong information, they could experience stomach problems which ruin their race.

2. Warm-Up Runs are OK

Especially if you have traveled some distance to get to the site of your marathon, you should consider taking a 20 to 30-minute walk to get your muscles loose. If you feel like it, you can take a short, slow run. Otherwise, it is best to save your energy for race day.

3. Start Hydrating Beforehand

Start hydrating a week before your race. You should calculate the amount of water you need by dividing your body weight in half and drink that many ounces each day in the week before your race. This may seem like a lot of water, but it is much better for your body to have a high state of hydration rather than trying to make up for it on race day.

4. Train Thoughtfully

The four building blocks of marathon training are base mileage, long runs, speed work, and rest and recovery. Before running a marathon, beginners should build up their weekly mileage to 50 miles. It is smart to keep from increasing your weekly mileage by more than 10 percent each week.

Long runs should be done once a week. When planning your long runs, try to match the type of terrain you will experience during your marathon. Include a mix of hilly and flat terrain for best results. Every 3 weeks, you should shorten your long run to prevent injuries and burnout, claims Dr. John Vinson.

Aside from long runs, John Vinson believes that speed work is another crucial part of a marathoner’s training experience. On speed work days, work in intervals of intense running and recovery jogs. You can also do tempo runs which are run at a higher pace than you normally go. It is important to warm up and cool down at an easy jog before and after a speed workout.

Don’t neglect rest and recovery. Your muscles need the time off to repair themselves, and you need to prevent burnout. If you have to do something on your off days, try cross-training with a lower-impact activity like swimming or hiking.

5. Race Day Tips

  • Use Vaseline or Body Glide on areas which may chafe.
  • Don’t overdress, and dress in layers so that you can remove them if needed.
  • Check whether the course allows headphones, not all marathons do.
  • Get there early and get in line for the bathrooms. It may take 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Don’t start out too fast, this is a rookie mistake. If you start at a comfortable pace, you can increase it later on.
  • Have a friend stand at a predetermined place to cheer you on.
  • Immediately after your race, drink lots of water or sports drinks. Walk to let your muscles cool down. Eat a simple carbohydrate even if you don’t think you feel like it.

Succeeding in Your First Marathon

When you follow these 5 tips from John Vinson, you may be able to have a better running experience. It is crucial to make sure that you eat, drink, and train properly before your race. It is better to be over prepared than underprepared when it comes to running. If you train for an even longer distance than 26 miles, you may find the marathon to come much easier.

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