Running a marathon is one of the most iconic sporting challenges on earth. More and more people are putting themselves to the test over the 26.2-mile distance, with 1.1million people having done so in 2018.
There are some simple, common-sense pointers all runners should follow. Here are Built for Athletes’ most essential tips for the marathon.
Don’t Exceed Your Target Pace!
Much easier said than done. So many people – particularly marathon first-timers – find themselves tempted to up the pace if they’re feeling good.
Don’t! Think of the first 20 miles as travelling time. Stick to the speed you set out to run and then the last 10k is a foot race.
The body’s glycogen stores last for about 90 minutes of exercise before becoming depleted. This means nutrition is needed during a marathon to avoid ‘hitting the wall’.
Energy gels are a good way of keeping fuel levels high. Be sure to practice with the gels you’ll use on race day.
Follow A Training Plan
If you’re still in the exploratory phase of your marathon adventure, this is arguably the most important tip.
How you prepare will ultimately dictate how you do on the big day. So follow a structured plan where possible to maximise your conditioning.
Research the event
Knowing what to expect on race morning can reduce all the little stresses that deplete your energy levels.
Make sure you know where to park, when to register, how many people usually show up and anything else you can think of.
Don’t miss long runs
The long run is the most important element of marathon training. Steadily improving the distance you can run for each week will help your body adapt so it’s able to cope better with 26.2 miles.
If at all possible, try and avoid missing your long run for the week and a basic progression is to add 2 miles on each time.
Soak it all in
A marathon is a big deal.
It’s easy to get anxious or overly concerned with times in the build-up but, whatever your expectations, running 26.2 miles is a huge achievement and something to savour.
You’ll likely remember it for the rest of your life, particularly if it’s your first one, so the best piece of advice is to try and relax, enjoy yourself and soak up the atmosphere.