Working towards a goal can be one of the best ways to actively commit to exercise. Going to the gym on a consistent basis can be very hard for people simply because it isn’t stimulating enough. Attending a class can be a good alternative if you like the sport and have fun, but even then, you’d benefit from having a goal, as it can help you push yourself harder and get fitter as a result. That goal can be to lose a certain amount of weight or to lift a certain amount of weight. It can also be to accomplish something as big as running a marathon. Before you commit to the full marathon, however, it’s important that you tackle the half-marathon first. This is how you can train for it:
Start with the Equipment You’ll Need
While it’s not necessary to get equipment when you first start training, it can help significantly. Running clothes, shoes, a hat, and a wearable water backpack can all make a huge difference to your running routine. If possible, don’t buy these items at full price. Instead, check to see if there’s a Champion promo code or a sale you can take advantage of. You’ll want all those items when you run the marathon, but since running shoes, breathable sports fabric, and so on can add up pretty quickly, those on a budget will need to play the long game and wait for discounts.
Build Up Your Lungs and Heart
If you find it hard to catch your breath, your heart races to the point of pain, and you even feel a bit dizzy when you try running a significant distance, then you need to take a step back and work on building up your stamina first. Run a lap around your local park once first, and when you can do that comfortably, increase it to two, and so on. Building up your stamina can go by quickly, but you should never overdo it since you can throw up or even black out.
Though it may seem unlikely, building up your stamina and the ability to breathe through long runs is actually what you’ll achieve first. Just remember not to push yourself too hard, too fast. Small, baby steps will help you achieve your goal faster and without putting your health at risk.
Building Up Your Endurance
Once you can start running without your heart and lungs feeling like they’re going to curl up and give up, it’s time to start working on your endurance. Try to start by running ten miles consistently. Then, six months before your marathon, work on increasing that amount by one to two miles per month. This will help you build up your endurance.
For best results and to keep it challenging while also better for your joints, try to run through hiking trails. The slight (or even extreme) variation in the terrain adds to the challenge and is actually easier on your joints as a whole. Yes, it’s easier to run on flat, paved ground. Yes, the marathon will also be on that same flat, paved ground, but in terms of training and your overall health, it’s better to run wild in nature paths, even if that’s just on trails in your local park.
Build Up your Strength
Leg strength plays a huge role in your ability to run, and while you will be building up leg muscle as you run, you won’t necessarily see results quickly unless you’re actively running twenty-plus miles per day. Most people simply don’t have the time for that kind of activity, and it’s also very hard on your knees. That’s why you need to work on building up strength in other ways. You can do leg exercises at home, at the gym, or even at the free park gyms you have near you.
When building up strength, don’t forget your arms or core, either. All three areas play a big role when it comes to increasing your ability to run long distances. Running alone can result in exercise plateau. When you plateau, gains are either far harder to achieve or simply impossible. That’s why strength exercises are a must for those looking to achieve a half-marathon and then a full marathon.
Carb Load the Week Before
The week before your marathon, you’ll want to follow a strict regimen that sees you increase your intake of proteins and carbs. Everyone has their own approach, but you’ll want to store the energy you’ll need for the half marathon without eating too much on the big day. This will ensure you have the energy without the full, bloated feeling when running.
If you aren’t sure where to begin, however, don’t worry. The carb-loading strategy is relatively straightforward. In the week leading up to your marathon, you’ll want to increase your total carbohydrate intake. Eat more pasta and other starches than you’d normally eat. On top of pasta, look to sweet potatoes, brown rice, quinoa, and whole grains. Taking in fiber is a must, so combining them with your carbohydrates can give you a double-whammy for your diet. Your last big meal should occur two days before your face. This will give your body the time that it needs to fully digest that big meal you had so that you don’t feel bloated or lethargic on race day. Then, the day before, you’ll want to change your routine again. This includes what you eat and drink. Although you should be drinking regularly every day, a few days before, you’ll want to drink all day long. Rather than water, aim to drink items packed full of electrolytes, like sports drinks. You’ll still want to eat carbs during this day, but eat until you’re comfortably full, and don’t overdo it. You should also try to eat small meals and snacks every two to three hours instead of bigger meals less often. Aim to eat light, digestible foods in the few hours leading up to the race so that you’re not bogged down with indigestion but also have all the energy you’ll need to accomplish your race.