Marathons have become more popular than ever, with some of the latest statistics revealing that in the U.S., the state of California hosts the most by far, with 72 in 2016. But no matter where you are in the country, you’re likely to find a 26.2-miler to sign up for, whether you just purchased one of the Nashville townhouses for sale and are looking for an exciting race in the Tennessee capital, or are looking to plan a vacation around one somewhere else.
The question for most first-timers that have decided to take on this challenge head-on is how to best prepare, with these tips sure to help.
Choosing a Training Plan
Your training plan will depend on how new you are to the sport of running. If you’re just starting out or are newer to the sport, it can take a year to build up to being able to run a marathon. You’ll need to work up to the mileage gradually, perhaps starting out with a 5K (3.1 miles), working up to a 10K and then moving on to a half-marathon (13.1 miles). It’s important to find a plan that allows you to gradually build mileage over time while improving endurance in order to prevent possible injuries. Experts suggest increasing weekly mileage by no more than 10 percent.
Log Your Miles
Whether you use your smartphone, laptop or pen and paper, keep track of your mileage and times when you run as well as how you feel – did you have a lot of energy throughout, or did your legs feel like concrete much of the time? Did you experience any aches or pains, difficulty breathing, and so on? It’s hard to remember what each run was like later, so you’ll want to log the information immediately. Be sure to keep track of races you run too, including distance and times so that you can learn from your training.
Cross-training is important for preventing injuries as well and will also help improve your aerobic conditioning. Complement your running program with activities like cycling or swimming one or two days each week at a moderate level of intensity. Strength-training is also important, such as yoga, Pilates or weight training, ideally performed two days a week.
To train for a marathon, you’ll need the right fuel. That means consuming nutritious foods, ideally following a 3-to-1 protein to carb ratio, while avoiding junk like fast and processed foods. This can make a significant difference, allowing the body to utilize and replenish the energy used during exercise while building important muscle. Popular foods for runners include bananas, oats, green veggies of all types, as well as nuts, seeds, organic eggs and chicken, grass-fed beef and plain yogurt.
Prepare Yourself Mentally
It’s not just the physical you need to think about, but you should prepare yourself mentally as well. Your confidence, attitude and overall mindset can significantly influence performance. Aim to envision yourself finishing the race daily and reward yourself for accomplishing tune-up races as well as challenging training runs. Be sure to study the marathon course prior to race day, whether it’s in person, or by studying a map so that there will be no surprises when you run the route.
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Until next time, thanks for reading!