Running is fun and enjoyable be it a trail run or a marathon.
You want to do it but are in a dilemma how to go about it?
Are you a beginner?
Never run before or haven’t run in a long time?
Have you signed up because your friends are running?
Have you taken this up as a challenge to test your own endurance or just to improve stamina?
We have just one month to go for the Mumbai Marathon. Most start training a month ago thinking it’s such an easy thing to do. More often than not an individual is of the opinion what’s the big deal about long distance running? It’s just running after all and I can probably do it easily if I have my ear plugs on with music flowing into my ears.
But, before you start on your running regime, one important thing you need to do is to motivate yourself. Building mental strength is key to any endurance sport and marathon is no different. It’s one thing to begin training and another thing to stay motivated every day and continue that training. Staying motivated and developing a proper mind set helps you to enjoy your training thereby enabling you to cross the finish line with a smile on your face. Finishing a marathon is a great accomplishment and you can be one of them.
But, training is challenging and you need to train well without damaging your body is very important. If you start running without taking any precautionary measures, your body is most likely to go through a lot of damage in the future. Motivation is not enough, having the right goals and reasons for running is equally important to be successful.
Learning and following some basics will help you get started. All you have to do is just follow these guidelines.
You begin with small strides. How much you run can be gradually increased depending upon your level of physical fitness. Beginners should start with Interval training- wherein you run in high speed for 2-3 minutes followed by 1 min of cool down at less speed. Then repeat the high intensity for 2-3minutes on a slightly higher speed than the previous time. Continue this for about 15-30 minutes. This routine should be practised 2-3 times a week and then follow it up with a long run once a week. After the run you should also do proper stretching on all the days. Most of you out there who have already been training for a while and are at an Intermediate level of training can start increasing their speed and distance slowly over a period.
Nutrition plays an important role when you decide to run a marathon. The most important nutrient being Carbohydrates which provides the fuel runners need and for glycogen storage (glucose in stored form). Carbohydrates should be about 50-60% of your meal on normal days and 60-70% of your meal a day prior to the long run days (Carbohydrate loading). Protein should be about 10-20% of your regular meal. Add on nutrients can be antioxidants, Vitamin C, E, being one of the best. Apart from antioxidants they have special properties like anti- viral, increases immunity (Vit C), muscle relaxant (Vit E). All these nutrients are necessary for your body as they are your fuel to run (carbohydrates & proteins) and also help your recover well (all of them). Other than this even Electrolytes are necessary to avoid cramps which can be a major issue for a runner. Best electrolyte source can be a sports drink like Enerzal or electrolyte drink; these can be used while running. Post the run bananas are the best form of electrolytes and Carbohydrates. Some runners can even have them on the way if need be.
3. STRENGTH TRAINING
As was said in the beginning most who sign up for a marathon usually just run. But, it is not so. If you have decided to run a marathon then you should also be including strength training as a part of your exercise regime for marathon training. The benefits being that it can prevent injuries and reduce effect of hard surface on the joints and ligaments which otherwise can be painful for some. Also for better performance example- the last sprint in the run to finish your marathon.
Exercise well. Other than that your core also needs strengthening as it maintains your stability, posture and balance, all of which is necessary to run faster and again avoid injuries. You can opt for strength training for about 2-3/wk. possibly under someone’s guidance.
Hydration is another very important aspect in marathon training. If your body cells are dehydrated, they will not work well for you and will not give you the required energy to run. Therefore, having water regularly before, during and after the run is necessary. A day prior the event the way you do carbohydrate loading , do water loading too, so have double the amount of water than usual. Have water about 20-30 minutes prior to the run, during the run you can just keep sipping on water every 15-20mins depending upon individual requirement. After the run, hydrate yourself well again. If need be you can even opt for sports drinks for long runs, as that will provide your body hydration as well as energy too.
It is important to recover well as your body’s tissues and cells should be ready for the next day’s work (office and exercise). Thus, one should always keep a gap of a day or so in between your running days may be alternating it with strengthening. One rest day in a week is also necessary where in no exercise of any sorts is done on that day. Nutrition matters a great deal in recovery, as discussed above. But, do not indulge on the rest day. Keep it moderate.
6 .PROPER GEAR
Last, but not the least. Appropriate gear is an important aspect for running a marathon. Shoes are one of the most important gears. You should go in for the right running shoe which fits well. People with flat feet should go in for insoles. Your next important gear should be your clothing. Anything that is very loose and baggy style should be avoided as it can slow you down or come in between while running (loose track pants). It can even cause rashes on body at times. Sweating can also make thick clothing heavier. One should opt for light clothing for running, like a dri-fit T and shorts or tights.
Anyone can follow these guidelines and run a marathon. But, everybody should consult a medical practitioner for any health issue or previous injuries if you have or had one.