Fitness & Health

Thinking of running the marathon?

marathon-runnersWe are fast approaching the marathon season and for many people, running a marathon will be one the most satisfying things they will ever experience. As they cross the finish line, that sense of achievement transcends all feelings of fatigue and anguish they may have been feeling seconds before. But before you attempt to do so there is an enormous amount of planning and preparation to be done to ensure you actually get to the finish.

First, you have to choose your race and with over 100 full marathons in the UK alone, there are plenty to choose from. But don’t forget about shorter races – they are good fun and ideal preparation for the main event. A quick search on the internet will turn up numerous sites giving dates and details of events both local and further afield. It is worth noting that places in races such as the London Marathon or Great North Run are quickly snapped up so it might be worth applying for slightly less ‘glamorous’, but equally satisfying events, closer to home.

Whatever your reason for running the marathon whether it’s to raise money for charity, get fit or simply for the sense of personal achievement, running 26 miles is a real test and should not be undertaken lightly. If you are not well prepared you will probably fail and could quite possibly injure yourself.

It is important to devise a training schedule and this applies equally whether you are running for the first time or are aiming improve your personal best as the basics of training for marathons apply to all runners. There are however two main criteria which may affect your training plans – experience and ambition. The greater your aspirations the harder you will need to train.

Trying to run too far too soon can result in avoidable strains and sprains or even more serious long term injuries such shin splints. Setting out a sensible, realistic and achievable timetable, detailing when to run, how far to run and when to rest, will help prevent training injuries and ensure you arrive at the start line in good shape.

Some simple rules for training:
• Increase your efforts week-on-week
• Vary your distances over each week
• Allow time to rest and recover
• Warm-up before every run
• Eat a sensible diet

It may seem like a good idea months before the event to run dressed as an elephant, but come the day it will probably be a decision you will regret. Wearing suitable running gear is very important and having the right clothes and accessories will make a significant difference to your comfort and success while running. For all but elite runners, there’s no need to invest in the very the best (and most expensive) equipment. Just make sure you have good quality running kit to help you stay comfortable and injury-free, whether training or competing.

Following a sensible diet is important for any marathon runner. Eating properly will allow your body to perform to its peak potential. Drinking beer, eating chips and snacking on crisps and chocolate may be enjoyable but they are hardly likely to improve athletic performance.

To train for months and have a disappointing end to a marathon is devastating so make sure you eat the right amount and types of food. For many, this will mean eating less fat and more carbohydrates.
Following a sensible, structured approach towards the big day will give you the best possible chance of making it a day to remember for all the right reasons.

Based on an original article at Marathon Runners’ Diary

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