Since I've ran in a few 5K and 10K races, the ultimate goal of running a marathon has been whispering in my ear. If you've been itching to run 26.2 miles, too, here's some advice from marathoners:
- Before signing up for a full marathon get a few shorter races under your belt.
- Train in all kinds of weather — heat, humidity, hail, rain, sleet, and sun. You never know what the weather will be like the day of the race, so you want to be prepared for anything.
- Don't train the same way every day. Cross train with weight lifting and other types of cardio such as biking to build other muscles and prevent injuries from repetitive motions.
- Don't run long distances every day. Run short races (3 to 5 miles) a few days in a row, and then run 8 to 10 miles one day. Each day you decide to run your long distance, you can work on building up to 12 miles, 15 miles, and all the way up to 20 miles.
- Try to complete three 20-mile runs before the marathon. Your last one should be about two weeks before the day of the race. Then ease up on your training and run a few miles a day until the race. This is called tapering off, and it will allow your muscles a chance to fully recover before you run the full 26.2 miles.
- Stretch after every workout to ease soreness, increase flexibility, and prevent injuries.
What else should you do? To find out
- While training, eat a balanced diet that includes lots of protein, carbs, and iron-rich foods. On the night and morning before the race, eat foods rich in protein and carbs. Eat foods you've eaten before and don't experiment with anything new like power drinks or energy bars.
- On the day of the race, wear things you've run in before. Now's not the time to try out new socks or a sports bra because it could cause chaffing or blistering. The same goes for running shoes. Break in your new sneaks at least a month or two before.
- Whether you're training or running in a race, listen to your body. If your knee is screaming in pain, stop running. You could make an injury worse.
- Keep in mind that running long distances is 90 percent mental and 10 percent physical. There's only so much training you can do to physically prepare for the race, so on the big day, the most important thing is to keep your mind set on crossing that finish line. Believe that you can do it. Repeat in your mind that you can do it, and you will.