How to Train for Your First Marathon

So, you’ve decided that you want to bring your running game to the next level! Here are some tips and tricks to help support you in crushing your goals!

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Author: Natalee Wheeler

26.2 miles sounds like a very intimidating number. Especially if you haven’t done much running in your life or maybe you took a break for a few months or a year. If you are a beginner when it comes to running or you’ve decided to run your first marathon, there are plenty of resources to make sure race day is a huge success!

Our nutritionist at the Office of Health Advancement, Julie Goyette, came up with some key principles for marathon training, specifically tailored to beginners.

Getting Started

This is a fun, new adventure! It’s not about “running”, it’s about the process and the fact that you are accomplishing a goal. There is no room for pressure or self-criticism.

Start with times, and then move to distance

This a less overwhelming and more practical way to approach training. It is helpful to use landmarks or songs for timing and to focus on walk/jog patterns. This first month is to build lung capacity, muscle strength, and endurance.

Focus on what promotes success

  • Appropriate food choices combined with eating early and often is a solid foundation: small portions of carbs+protein
  • Adequate sleep is imperative
  • Schedule time for training
  • Learn to say NO- this is your time!
  • Pay attention to hydration status

Use your support team

You have friends, race buddies, and family to help support you! There are also lots of staff at OHA that are happy to meet with you and help coach you if you want extra support! There are appropriate magazines and encouraging literature that may be helpful too!

Embrace your calendar

Talk yourself through your week and plan for schedule obstacles. Starting a diary or journal can help to chart trends, feelings, and attitudes about your training.

Expect the good, the bad, and the ugly!

Expect there to be amazing days and also days that you wonder why you are doing this. Over training can be the worst thing possible, so be careful not to overdue yourself on running or cross training. Don’t get discouraged, you’re living for the good days!

Find a training plan that works for you

Julie recommends gradually increasing the length and distance of your runs, especially the LSD (long slow distance) runs. These LSD runs can be done during the weekend and the point is to spend time out on the road. There are also runs called fartleks that Julie recommends. These are where you do a 1 mile warm up and then choose some type of landmark (street sign, large rock, tree, house, etc.) to turn up the pace for about 50-100 M and then slow back down to your previous pace. Do this every 1/4 -1/2 mile and increase the frequency and duration as training progresses.

If you have done plenty of running and are looking for a more intense program, there are plenty of training calendars out there for you to use. It is important to find what works best for you and the level of running you’re at. If you’ve already run half marathons or other marathons, maybe a more advanced plan is what you want! I personally found Runner’s World a great place to find a more outlined running plan.

Remember: When you run, you are free.

Running is an equalizer. It doesn’t matter what size you are, what your hair looks like, if you’re wearing the most expensive LuLuLemon running leggings, or what your strategy is. When you are running a marathon, there are so many wonderful people out there breaking the odds and challenging their inner selves. The running community is positive, encouraging and filled with love. Everyone is there to crush their own goals, to be comfortable in their own skin, and to accomplish something amazing: finishing a 26.2 mile race!!! Running makes you free and its important to keep your personal goals in mind when planning your first marathon.

If you are interested in getting some personal coaching for race training or want to talk to someone about your fitness goals, schedule an appointment at the Office of Health Advancement today!

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