January 25, 2018

Marathon Preperation for Beginners: A 6 Step Guide

Jamie Fullerton
,
Head Physiotherapist
It seems like ages ago you signed up, but now the big day is looming in the not too far away future and you need to plan, prep and get your act together!

To help you on your way to marathon success, we’ve put together a quick guide on preparation for beginners like yourself. 

1. Don’t forget the basics

  • Ensure you are hydrated before, during and after your run.
  • Make sure to rest up prior to the day, but also afterwards, allowing your body the time needed to recover.
  • Eat well and enough, making sure to replace all of the calories lost both in your training and on the day itself.

2. Choose your shoes wisely

There’s nothing worse than sore feet midway through a run. Arguably the biggest mistake made by new runners is buying new trainers just before race day. Make sure you wear the same shoes throughout your training, as you will when you run your marathon. You’ll be less likely to incur an injury and be fully familiar with your footwear for long-distance running. Go for comfort, think about the course and finally, seek expert help to ensure your joints are well protected. 

3. Include resistance training

Many people ditch the weights when starting to seriously prepare for a big run, but by doing so they are making a huge mistake. Running puts a lot of strain on the body so you want your muscles to be as strong as possible, which will help them to handle the stress. Otherwise, the strain of running is absorbed elsewhere in the body, i.e. your bones and connective tissues. By including strength training in your marathon preparation, you will help not only help your body to prepare, but also ensure you preserve the muscle you are building and give an overall balance to your training.

4. Try supplements prior to race day

If you plan to use supplements whilst you race, experiment with different brands and types of supplements before you commit to anything on marathon day itself. Think about what you can eat/drink whilst moving and stick to the brands you get on with during your training (gels and energy bars, in particular, can have vastly different textures). Be wary of consuming anything given to you from the course side. Obviously, water is fine, but anything untested might upset your stomach.

5. Set your goals and consider your options

Firstly, think about your overall goal… Is it to simply finish the marathon? Or to run it for a certain time? If the latter is what matters to you, have you considered following a ‘pacer’? This is someone who runs with a group, leading them to ensure everyone who follows accomplishes a certain time. There will be pacers for 3-hour marathons, 3.10 marathons, 4-hour and 5-hour marathons. This can also be a great opportunity to meet some like-minded people who will be with you on the way!

6. Don’t let your niggles become more than just niggles

The last thing you want to do is allow what seems like a small strain whilst training, ruin months of hard work on the big day. Ongoing rehab between training will not only ensure you are ready for the race, but will also prepare your body for the best performance possible.

Considerations to make before the race:

  • What time should you arrive?
  • Where is the bag drop off point?
  • Will water be provided?

Lastly, remember to arrange a meetup point with anyone you need to prior to the race. You may not have your phone with you after finishing, therefore try to ensure that your meeting place is in a precise location and, if possible, free from crowds!

Good luck on the big day and if you take anything away from the above information, let it be to look after yourself, follow a sensible and balanced plan and most of all - enjoy yourself! 

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