Marathon Training TipsLast updated: Nov 03, 2011
With the New York marathon almost here, Summit Medical Group ear specialist, marathoner, and triathlete Jed A. Kwartler, MD, offers sensible tips on preparing for, managing and enjoying, and recovering from an endurance event:
Preparing for a Marathon
- Build up your endurance/distance slowly
If you're new to or a novice at endurance training and racing, it's likely you'll need 16 to 20 weeks (or 4 to 6 months) to adequately prepare for a marathon. Consistent, incremental training will allow you to increase your endurance/distance with less risk for injury and illness. In addition, adding to your endurance little by little means your training program will be more comfortable and enjoyable!
- Be sure you have proper footwear
Running shoes are designed to accommodate different feet and running styles. A store that specializes in running shoes is the best place to be measured and find out what type of shoe is best for your foot, stride, and running style.
- Strength train for overall fitness
Having strong muscles in your neck, shoulders, chest, back, abdomen, and legs can help support your joints and prevent injury.
- Match your nutritional needs to your workouts
Remember that good nutrition is more important than ever when you're training for endurance. Eating the right number of calories, carbohydrates, and protein as well as getting the vitamins and minerals you need is essential for endurance training and your performance on race day. Don't forget to practice eating the combination of foods and drinks you'll consume before your race to avoid race-day surprises.
- Get adequate rest
Establish and stick with a consistent sleep schedule that gives you the rest you need for good workouts and outstanding performance on the day of your race.
During the Race
- Keep an even pace when you begin your race
Despite the adrenaline surge you're likely to experience, control your pace at the start of and throughout the race to help ensure a successful finish. Consider the race as a series of short, manageable stretches such as a series of 5-K (3-mile) stretches rather than thinking of it as 26 miles. As you finish a stretch, think only of the short stretch ahead. Before you know it, you'll reach your goal!
- Stick to your nutrition and drinking plans throughout the race
Walk through the aid stations to be sure you get enough nutrition and liquids during the race. Don't let the excitement of the race and the thought of cutting seconds off your time get in the way of your plan. Not getting the nutrition and liquids you need can mean not finishing the race!
- Enjoy the race
In addition to your performance, there are many aspects about a race that are interesting and inspiring. Experiencing the people and things going on around you can help distract you from the physical and mental demands of the marathon. Try not to think about what's ahead or what's behind you. Enjoy the moment!
Recovering From Your Marathon
- Congratulate yourself!
Completing a marathon is a huge accomplishment! Enjoy the good feelings that come with your achievement!
- Get warm and start rehydrating as soon as you finish the race
Replenish your energy stores with carbohydrates such as oranges and other fruit as well as and energy drinks and water. Remember that your body best absorbs nutrition and liquids 30 to 60 minutes after you finish running.
- Rest your legs the next day
Recovering from a race means resting! Treat yourself to a massage and be sure to walk 10 to15 minutes the first day after the race to stretch your legs. Increase your walk to 30 minutes 2 days after your race. Getting moving will help prevent stiffness and soreness.
- Choose a new goal and begin working toward it
Many people suggest they feel let down after completing a race. Having a new goal will help sustain your fitness, stay in the game, and beat the blues from having the marathon behind you!
- Make physical activity part of your life
Transform all you've learned from training for and recovering from your race into a healthier approach to life overall. Consider entering races of varied distances (everything from 5-K races to 10-K races to half marathons to full marathons) to find your sweet spot for running and keep up your fitness goals.
An advocate for preventive care and measures that can increase odds for good health, Dr. Kwartler >has participated in several triathalons, including the Iron Man. He has run the Philadelphia marathon and is preparing to run the Boston marathon.