With only four months left until the New York City marathon, I wanted to share my training tips I gathered from my experience so far. Prior to signing up for the marathon, I ran multiple half marathons along with a Spartan race. Since the marathon is double the distance I am used to, my training and running schedule is currently the most intense it has ever been. Below, I included a breakdown of my top 5 training elements that all contribute to preparation for the race.
When training for a marathon, developing running endurance is crucial for success. This starts by creating base miles for your body to work off of. Ideally, you should be running 20 – 30 miles a week prior to your marathon training program. This base will allow your body to push itself to new distances. For example, once you’ve been consistently running 12 miles a week, increase the distance about two miles every two weeks to 14 miles. Once you ran this distance for two weeks, then push up again to 16 miles. This gradual increase will give your body time to adjust to these new distances needed to sustain the course of the race.
As I started my marathon training, I did not initially think about adding speed work into my regular running routine. I recently learned to incorporate this workout in my routine to increase aerobic capacity and to strengthen other muscles in my legs. A great place to practice speed training is at a running track which will allow you to measure your distances. Interval running is a great way to work on speed training since you will exert a large amount of energy at once followed by a short resting period. These intervals will allow your body to train with speed in a way that is manageable.
In addition to your training routine, your diet also begins to play a big role in marathon training. In order to sustain your long runs, your body needs high-octane fuel including high-fiber and low fat/fiber meals. The best types of food include high protein and carb based meals especially before your long run days. These types of meals will provide the fuel you need to sustain your energy levels throughout your training. The day before a long run, I like to eat food including lean meats like chicken, grains, pasta and vegetables. About an hour before a long in the mornings, I normally eat a bowl of cereal or oatmeal to provide the energy needed for the long run. If I run at night, I like grabbing stacks that will give me a quick boost of energy like a protein bar, fruit or almonds. These snacks will help boost your energy levels to better support your long runs.
Shorter races like a 5K, 10K or half marathon are great distances to help prepare you for the full distance of the marathon. Mentally, these shorter races will expose you to the feelings that come along with racing including excitement, anxious feelings and the pressure to preform at your best ability. The distances will also help prepare your body and build up mileage. For example, if you normally run 9 – 10 miles for your long run, a half marathon would be a great next step to increase your long run distance. Once completed, the 13 mile distance will be your new base mileage and you can build from there.
This aspect can frequently be overlooked when focusing on training, however, this element is equally as important. Give yourself at least one rest day during the week to allow your body to recover and rest. Resting allows your body to heal and prepare for your runs planned ahead. Proper stretching also falls under this category along with hydration. Stretching should come before and after each run and you should be drinking plenty of water to sustain the workouts especially before your long run days. Taking care of your body is just as important as training your body for a marathon.