There are a few important factors to keep in mind when taking up marathon running.
There is no doubt that running 26.2 miles is an incredible challenge and building a solid base of endurance over a long period of time is a major key to avoiding injury and ultimately, to marathon success.
EASE INTO MARATHON TRAINING AND AVOID INJURY
Marathon running and distance run training involves “high impact” exercise because of the jarring effect it has on the body with every single foot-fall.
Although the knees bear much of the burden, the impact that results when each foot meets the ground effects the entire skeletal frame.
Over time the body will adapt to the constant demands of training as muscles, ligaments and tendons eventually strengthen as the runner’s conditioning improves. However, there is risk involved with demanding too much from the body too soon.
If a marathoner or Ironman wants to reach the point where long distances become very manageable and less physically stressful, then it’s essential to build up running distances very slowly over time in order to ease the body into marathon distance running and training.
The human body is a miracle of creation and has the remarkable ability to adapt to the demands that are made on it.
However, if runners insist on run training long distances without giving their bodies time to adapt it could result in runs that are very difficult and rife with the potential for injury.
With that in mind, it stands to reason that one of the key ways to make long runs easier is to work up to those longer distances slowly.
This is equally important if you are keying on a marathon or plan on doing an Ironman race that includes a marathon. Either way it is still the marathon distance and easing into longer distances in training is crucial.
It’s also typical that most new runners will be unaware of the importance of rest days in the fitness equation.
Although it might not seem too bad at the time, running day after day and running too far too often and taking on the challenge of a marathon without proper preparation will eventually result in the body rebelling and eventually breaking down.
Long runs are much more enjoyable if they are carefully scheduled in the weekly training program. For instance, longer runs should be scheduled after a full day of rest from training.
Another rest day or very easy run should be scheduled for the day “after” the long run. The first rest day allows the runner to attempt the longer run fully rested, and the second rest day allows for recovery after the long run.
DIET IS AN IMPORTANT COMPONENT
Once a runner begins to take on longer distances in training diet becomes more and more important.
Having the body properly fueled with the optimum balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fats will help combat fatigue and physical stress that often results when runners begin to run longer distances.
Eating plenty of complex carbohydrates leading up to the race will top up glycogen stores, but it’s important to note that more is not necessarily better. There is only so much glycogen the body can store.
Most marathoners will begin to run out of glycogen about the 20-mile mark of the marathon and that’s when they run into the invisible wall.
It is a wise endurance runner who uses a heart-rate monitor to teach their bodies how to burn fat for fuel. You can read more about heart-monitor training right here on IronStruck.
Of course a major part of the fueling process includes being properly hydrated going into a marathon and having enough fluid replacement during the course of the race to sustain an optimum level of hydration.
It is wise to begin hydrating about four days before your marathon. Once you urine is clear and copious you are exactly where you want to be. From there on it’s just a matter of maintaining that level of hydration until the starting gun and through-out the course of the race.
There is no set formula for how much water to drink during the race as everyone is different.
The Kenyans for instance drink very little water at all during a marathon. Many of them feel that the fluid they lose during the course of a marathon makes them lighter and as a result…faster.
Of course this is not an ideal plan for everyone, but rather just an example of how their are different philosophy’s when it comes to fluid intake in endurance events.
You might enjoy this article about Kenyan runners.