How to start training for a marathon
Running is a brilliant way to reduce your stress levels and improve your wellbeing and exercise levels, all of which will see your Well One Health Score boom. Like lots of people on Well One, the best part about running is beating your personal best time and running faster than your friends. This competitive streak leads many runners to apply for the London Marathon.
Whether you are a seasoned runner, or are just starting out, preparing yourself for a marathon is a big commitment – and completing one can seem like a mammoth task. It’s something that very few people finish each year and it really does sort out the dedicated runners from the casual ones.
It must be said that not all people that go running will want to complete a marathon or even try, some just enjoy the exercise and find it a calming way to destress and work out. However, if you do want to try and push your boundaries and give yourself a new challenge, embarking upon a marathon can be a fantastic way to achieve this.
There’s a reason that so many people run multiple marathons once they have completed their first. The buzz and sense of achievement that comes from crossing the finish line is second to none.
However, it’s foolish to think you can go straight from running around your block or doing 20 minutes at the gym to finishing more than 26 miles in one go. It’s important that you understand the mammoth task ahead of you and take the time needed to achieve your goals.
Most people that will be running this year’s London Marathon in April will have already had months, if not years, of training in preparation for the big event. This probably means that setting your sights on this year’s race may be a little unreachable, but there is no time like the present to get ready for 2016.
But how do you go about training for a marathon?
As mentioned previously, it’s important that you give yourself enough time to prepare for a marathon. It is estimated that a seasoned runner (someone who can run 10K comfortably) will take around four months to be ready to complete a marathon distance. However, if you are keen to set yourself a big challenge and can’t wait until 2016, you could also try a half marathon like the Great North Run in May. This gives you a little more time to get ready and also helps you imagine what the real thing will be like.
It’s not good to go straight for 26 miles or go running every single day. It’s vital that you build up the distance you are able to run and give your body dedicated ‘rest days’. This will limit the risk of you suffering an injury. It’s also important to ensure you do the appropriate stretches and cooldown periods before and after your run. This will help your body adjust and is incredibly important if you are running outside where temperatures are cold and your muscles are stiff.
Although your programme can suit you and your lifestyle, you should aim to start running 20 minutes a day, four times a week and slowly build this up to 40, 50 and 60 minutes. Once you are running a hour comfortably, you can try pushing yourself to complete a 26-mile distance once a week. It’s important that you don’t push yourself too far and try and complete the marathon for the sake of it. Although it’s great to push your boundaries, you need to know your limits and when you start your cooldown.
When planning your training schedule it’s important that you combine heavy runs where you really push yourself with more gentle runs that keep your fitness levels up and your muscles warm.
The Well One forum is a fantastic place to get more advice on starting your training programme, and the benefits of completing a marathon.