November is right around the corner and that means marathon month is almost here. Training for a half or full marathon can be incredibly hard. I am currently training for my first half marathon and plan to run a full marathon in the spring. As my mileage increases each week and race day approaches, I have discovered that the last month of half or full marathon training is by far the most important. Not only is it the most important, but it's also the hardest.
With that being said, there's no reason to give up, as the feeling you get when crossing the finish line is indescribable. Here are a few tips that will help keep you going and give you the best results, all while making the last month of marathon training the best one yet.
7 Fitness Tips for Training
1. Recruit a Friend
Going on long runs alone can be lonely and boring if the runner's high hasn't set in. Running partners are the perfect pick-me-ups. They help you set a pace, motivate you, and together you'll push each other to go faster and farther.
Ultimately, whether your friend is furry with four legs or your best two-legged gal pal, having someone by your side makes the overall experience of running more enjoyable.
2. Change It Up
For Indoor Runners:
There are two reasons running solely on a treadmill won’t benefit your marathon training. First, treadmills can be so dull. I mean, staring at the same wall, running miles and miles, yet never getting anywhere can be boring. Your solution? Run outside. Not only does this provide variation in your training, but it's also just nice to get outside, breathe some fresh air and have a change of scenery.
Second, you should practice how you play. Your race is run outdoors so it is important to train outside so your body gets used to it, therefore optimizing your chances of positive results on race day.
For Outdoor Runners:
You may like the familiarity of your regular running route but continuously running the same trails and roads can become repetitive. In order to avoid boredom, try alternating between three different routes. Changing up your route will not only make marathon training more enjoyable, but will also give you the opportunity to discover new places
3. Wear appropriate footwear
It may sound silly, but what you wear on your feet while you're training and when you're just walking around campus matters. Wearing high heels or flip-flops can give you shin splints, which will put you out of training for weeks. Moral of the story: wear some flats and sneakers when you are walking around so you keep your legs healthy for race day.
4. Land on your forefoot
Half marathon or full marathon training involves a lot of pounding the pavement and puts a lot of stress on your joints and muscles. By running on your forefoot, your shoes absorb a lot of shock each time your foot lands, resulting in a comfortable run.
5. Slow down your breathing
Breathing may sound simple, but it's actually the number one thing that most runners do wrong. By inhaling too much oxygen too rapidly, you aren’t getting rid of all the CO2 in your lungs. This causes you to get out of breath quickly. If you just slow down your breathing and relax, you will end up running faster.
6. Cross train
Adding in aerobic cross training and light resistance training on your off running days is a great way to optimize your running fitness and over all performance. This is also a great way to build up other muscles that you might not have been using during your routine marathon training.
Your post-run routine is so incredibly important and is often the aspect of marathon training that most people ignore. Make sure you take the time to stretch and use a foam roller to loosen up those muscles. If you are still sore after stretching, lather on some icy hot, an excellent source of pain relief.
7 Nutrition Tips for Training
1. Gatorade Energy Chews
Marathon training takes a lot of energy. These Gatorade energy chews are the perfect way to supply fuel levels and prepare your muscles for your workout. They are also a great source of energy and will help to boost your endurance for the workout ahead of you.
2. Drink Water
Try to drink half your body weight in ounces of water every day. It may seem like a lot, but being hydrated relieves fatigue and helps keep your muscles from cramping up. Mix in a sports drink too in order to keep your electrolyte count up.
3. Eat Protein
Protein is a key part of any runner’s diet, but it is particularly important for marathon training. Running breaks down your muscles' proteins and damages muscle fibers, so protein is needed to help rebuild those muscles.
Eating foods such as chicken, eggs, lean red meats, peanut butter, bananas, and protein bars (which are all excellent sources of protein) will fuel you for your training. It's critical that you fuel your body with the proper nutrients in order to get the most out of your run.
After a long run, it's necessary to refuel within 30 minutes. Smoothies are a fantastic post-run snack when you're in a rush. Smoothies that combine fruits, vegetables, and protein are probably the best way to blend together all the nutrients you need in a delicious way while also replenishing your body after your marathon training session.
6. Plenty of Fats
Unfortunately, this does not mean eating lots of candy, cakes, and sweets. What this does mean is you need to pack your diet with healthy fats, such as avocado, nuts, and real butter. During training, you need fat in your diet to aid in recovery, absorption of nutrients, and protect joints and organs.
During marathon training, carbs should make up 50-60% of your daily meals. Whether that be pasta, bread, grains, or rice, your body needs those carbs. When broken down, carbs serve as long-term energy storage that our body taps into when we need, aka when training for a marathon.