What you should know when training for a marathon.
You’ve just signed up for a marathon and now you’re panicking a little because you don’t think you’ll be able to complete it. Well, we’re here to tell you that all is not lost! You can always get your game up to speed.
The reality is, you won’t be able to run a full marathon (all 42.195 kilometres of it) unless you’re a seasoned pro but you can certainly work towards it or aim to finish a half- marathon (21 kilometres). What it takes is a certain amount of training time, dedication, discipline and focus. If you’re ready to give it a go, here are some great tips on how to train for a marathon.
Tip #1: Plan it out
First, decide if you want to go all out and run a full marathon. Perhaps, you’d like to dip your toes in the water with a half marathon, first? Once you’ve made up your mind, look for a training regimen you can follow. There are plenty of online resources that are reliable such as www.marathonrookie.com and www.runnersworld.com. Don’t forget to create a diet plan as well.
Tip #2: Set your mind to it and do it
Once you’ve chosen a training routine that works with your schedule and abilities, it’s time to execute it! Don’t try to finish all 42 or 21 km at first. Aim for something achievable, such as five kilometres per run, and then increase the number of kilometres from there.
Try short runs (eight to 10 kilometres) during one or two weekdays and a long distance run (16 to 21 kilometres) once a week. In the final month leading up to the marathon, increase the intensity. Try running 10 kilometres during the weekdays and perhaps try for a half marathon (21 kilometres) on weekends.
Tip #3: Explore other activities
Training for a marathon doesn’t mean running, running and more running. Other exercises that target the abdominal muscle groups, thighs and arms, are also great for helping you build your endurance.
Include activities like swimming, which is good for cardio fitness (light to moderate intensity exercise). You can also do Pilates twice a week and abdominal workouts such as crunches and leg raises. Squats are very effective for strengthening thigh and calf muscles which will help you with your running.
Tip #4: Keep hydrated and eat right
Running long distance requires a lot of energy and it’s best to get those from complex carbohydrates such as whole wheat pasta, bread and potatoes. Protein plays a role as well and will help you build the muscles you need, to get to that finish line.
Stay away from fried foods, spicy foods and beer during training. In the week leading up to the marathon, increase your carbohydrate intake. You can try eating more rice and also cereal bars. Now’s the time to indulge yourself and go for that yummy spaghetti dish at your favourite restaurant! Remember to drink plenty of water and sip throughout the day to avoid repeated bathroom breaks.
Tip #5: Know your limits
Whatever happens, don’t over train. It is best to run every other day in order to let your body rest and heal. You should also get to know your limits. If your body is ‘telling’ you to stop, stop. Some of the signals your body can send you include a feeling of continuous exhaustion and muscle cramps. It’s not worth pushing for ‘one more kilometre’. That’s how you get injured. Injuries take time to heal, which will chip into your training time.
Tip #6: Putting your best shoe forward
The physical part of training for a marathon is intense but don’t get caught up in just that as there are a number of other things you need to get right. For instance, make sure you wear the right pair of running shoes as these can either make you or break you (sometimes literally!).
Good running shoes support and cushion your feet properly, so take the shape of your feet into account, as some people have a high arch, while others have flat feet. If your feet require extra attention in everyday life — like pain in your ankles, knees and lower back because you have flat feet — you’ll need to give your feet some extra tender loving care if you’re planning on running long distance.
If you take care of your feet, you’ll prevent injuries, such as shin splints (irritated muscles, tiny breaks in lower leg bones and weakness in stabilising or core muscles), blisters or tendonitis (irritation of the tendon that connects bone to muscle).
Always shop later in the day because your feet tend to swell at that time. Your feet will also swell during a run. By trying on shoes when your feet are at their largest, you’ll ensure that they won’t get squished in your shoes during the marathon. If in doubt, bring along an old pair of running shoes, so the salesperson can help you find the right shoe and size.
Ready to Sign Up?
Feel inspired? Find out when and where a marathon is happening near you and sign yourself up! Here are some of the most interesting and popular marathons in Malaysia.
- Standard Chartered KL Marathon. www.kl-marathon.com
- The Color Run™. www.thecolorrun.my/language/en-US/Home
- The Penang Bridge International Marathon. www.penangmarathon.gov.my/portal/
- The Borneo International Marathon in Sabah. www.borneomarathon.com/