Your Go-To Tips When Training For A Marathon

Autumn is usually a time when runners start training for marathon season. Training can be an arduous process, and it requires participants to be in top shape to complete the entire race. With the pandemic still affecting our daily lives, especially in more prominent and populous areas, athletic events like the New York City Marathon are being postponed. Additionally, many people find that the more time they spend cooped up at home, the more aches and pain they experience from lack of movement. If you’re feeling discouraged as a runner, we have some tips to help you continue training for a marathon and hopefully help you get your spirits up.

Read on as we discuss some tips to help you safely get back into the running game.

Training For A Marathon? Here Are The Tips You’re Looking For

We know that a lot of you were itching to cross “running a marathon” off your bucket list for 2020, but the global pandemic has thrown a wrench in your plans. You’re not alone! COVID-19 has simply made runners a bit more creative in achieving their mileage and speed goals. Now you can participate in virtual races and other online challenges to help you fill your time as we adjust to this new normal.

Don’t give up, though! One day you will be able to participate in a real-life marathon with your fellow runners, and when that day comes, you’ll want to be ready for it. Here we’ve laid out a few timeless tips to help you start training for a marathon no matter what shape you’re in right now. 

Carefully Map Out Your Course

The first thing you should do is map out your final course and try to start incorporating your training runs on the same topography as the actual marathon. If you’re running in New York City, then you’ll want to practice running up and down hills. Chicago runners, however, need to get used to several hours of flat terrain. Though a flat course might seem like a breeze for those used to the up and down, a flat course means you’re using the same muscles the whole race with no variation, and you’ll want to prepare your body for that.

Drastic times call for drastic measures, and you might have to prepare for runs on a treadmill or even just stairways and steps, especially if you live in an area where the terrain is different from the race you’re signed up for. For example, if you live in a flat area but need to train for a hilly run, you might try to alter the incline throughout your treadmill run. 

On the actual race day, map out your course and consider leaving supplies for yourself along the way. These supplies might include water bottles, Vaseline, energy chews, and fresh masks at different points. Several sportswear companies make masks that are breathable and comfortable and can stand up to the condensation that comes from heavy breathing.

Listen To Your Body 

An important tip we like to give to runners, novice or experienced, is to listen to your body. Though aches and pains are bound to happen, especially if you’re just getting back into the running routine, pay attention to what your body is trying to tell you. Runnings who are training for a marathon tend to see a body break down usually 2-4 weeks before the race day. Overuse aches and injuries can include shin splints, Achilles and hip flexor tendonitis, and runner’s knee (known to us as patellofemoral pain).

Make sure you’re resting when you need to rest and ask your physical therapist for more exercises you can do to ease these aches and pain.

Cross-Training Is Important When Training For A Marathon

It’s also essential to implement cross-training into your training plan. Incorporate short runs with dynamic warm-ups to help keep your muscles fluid. Cross-training and building up your entire body is just as beneficial as getting in those long runs.

Don’t Forget About Mobility and Flexibility

One of the best ways to prevent those aches and injuries we mentioned above from sneaking up on you is to make the most out of your recovery days. On the days you’re not running, incorporate icing into your routine, self-massage, and don’t forget to focus on stretching and mobility. Stiff muscles won’t be able to make it the full 26 miles on race days. If you’re feeling actual pain, though, make sure you’re taking full days off too to let your body rest and heal.

Warm Up And Cool Down

Here at Park Sports, we think that the warming up and cooling down portions of your workout are essential parts of every run, and you definitely should not skip them. Proper warm-ups and cool-downs are vital in preventing injuries and helping you get the most out of your race.

When you perform a proper warm-up, you’re gradually preparing your heart, lungs, muscles, and tendons to exert each training run. It can last anywhere from five minutes to one hour. It should include gentle loosening exercises, some light jogging, static stretching, and maybe even event-specific activities like jumping over hurdles, sprinting, or running at race speed.

Once your workout is finished, you’ll want to begin your cool down, which helps your body recover and helps prepare it for tomorrow’s workout. A cool-down can include roughly 10 minutes of easy running or jogging, which encourages your heart and lungs to return to their regular rates slowly. This is also an excellent time for stretching and massage, as your muscles will be warm and loose. Stretching will help your muscles for the next day’s workout. Hold your stretch for 15 to 20 seconds, and repeat a few times per muscle group.

Try A Dress Rehearsal Run

We suggest doing a dress rehearsal run if you have the time. Four or five days before the marathon, do a three-mile run at marathon-pace in your marathon outfit and shoes. If you can, run at the same time of day as the start of your marathon so you can get your body’s rhythm in sync for race day. The more times you can do this before race day, the better.

While you’re doing short “dress rehearsal” runs, picture yourself on race day. Are you strong and relaxed? Mentally preparing for the day will help boost your confidence, and these practice runs will provide the last boost of conditioning to lock in your race pace on marathon day.

Mindset Is Everything

Though it’s important to train hard for your marathon, you should spend time working on a positive mindset as you prepare for your race. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or as you’re getting dressed for every run, start to visualize yourself crossing the finish line as the clock shows your personal best time. Start willing your positive experience into existence, and see how much better you feel on race day. 

You’ve heard the saying when the going gets tough; the tough get going. Runners already have the determination and perseverance that long races need, so we suggest adding a smile to your face and start believing in yourself. You can accomplish anything – and have fun doing it!

Reach Out To Park Sports Physical Therapy

If there’s any pain or lack of movement you’re experiencing that keeps you from participating in a marathon or even a half marathon, reach out to us. The physical therapists at Park Sports PT might be able to help you get back to doing the things you love and help relieve the pain that is holding you back.

Everyone is different when it comes to their training methods and their pain. But at Park Sports, everyone gets the same elite, top-quality, neighborhood care. To us, it’s personal, and we want to help you feel healthy, strong, and able to do the things you love. Call us today, and let’s discuss your goals.