Running a marathon involves a lot more than huffing through 26.2 miles. Even runners accustomed to regular 8-10 mile runs will need about 20 weeks to prepare, to ensure maximum success and minimum injury on race day. Here are some training tips to get you ready.
Build weekly mileage over time - don’t rush it. Long runs should be extended by just one mile at a time up to ten miles, then by two miles if you feel comfortable.
Take time to recover. A study at the University of Northern Iowa showed that four-times-a-week runners did just as well in marathons as those training six times a week.
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Do long runs every 7-10 days, for about 3 hours. If you go longer, take walking breaks.
Nourish your body with the right foods. Carbs are important during and immediately after workouts to replenish glycogen in leg muscles. Cold-pressed Living Juice can help here - Fresh Start and Red Radiance are good carb choices (and what goes down better than fresh, vitamin-packed juice after a workout?).
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As you train, for runs over an hour, start by fueling with 30 grams of carbs every 30-45 minutes. If you feel good at the end, keep it up; if not, try adding 15 grams of carbs per hour. This is how you’ll design your race day fuel strategy.
Three weeks before the race, it’s time to start tapering, or reducing weekly mileage. The basic idea: cut back to about 85% of your normal mileage three weeks out, then 75% two weeks before. The week of the race, you might want to give yourself an extra rest day, while limiting runs to around 60% of normal mileage.
During tapering, avoid snacks you were in the habit of grabbing while you were training before, since you’re not burning as many calories. Do eat when you’re hungry – just keep it healthy. A 2-4 pound weight gain is normal.
While a super-carb-loaded dinner the night before the race is a tradition for some runners, it could just make you bloated on race day. Consider making lunch the day before your big high-carb, moderate protein, and low-fat and fiber meal. On race day, eat a small breakfast rich in carbs to maintain normal blood sugar level.
Whatever your plan for fueling during the race, make sure you’ve practiced it during training – stick to what has worked for you, including using the same brands.
The marathon is over. You did it! But just because you've stopped running doesn't mean you can stop fueling – consume 15-30 grams of protein to kick start recovery, and replenish your glycogen stores with 60-120 grams of carbs.
Then... time to celebrate! Or sleep.
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