When preparing for a marathon, many first-timers disregard the value of having a regular training program, and the importance of adding distance to their weekly runs in a slow planned and gradual way. Training for a race requires a lot of time and effort, but also a lot of discipline and motivation. If you lack a motivated mindset, then chances are your training will not be successful.
Something you will face when you learn how to train for a marathon is wondering why you decided to do this, so make sure you pick a goal that will get you to push yourself even when you feel like quitting. Once we engage with a training program, it is very important to follow through every step of the way, if we really want to be prepared for race day and, most important of all, if we want to avoid injuries. Keep in mind that a regular training program should have a light run early in the week, a moderate run in the middle of the week, and a long run at the end of the week, where we add distance gradually as weeks go by.
Not having a proper training program, or lacking the time to follow one, can result in serious injuries or even leaving us outside of the race. I recently read about a marathon first-timer who followed up on a training program, did well for the first two months, but then found himself missing a couple of weekly long runs. In order to catch up and to be “prepared” for race day, he found himself adding 2,5 to 3 kilometers every week to his weekly long runs. One month before race day, the unavoidable thing happened, an injury left him out of the competition.
It is very easy to be injured if our body is not used to long runs, that is why we should start with a training program early enough, leaving some room for a couple of unforeseen events that may cancel our park or treadmill appointment. Keep in mind that, just like in Murphy’s law, from weather to work to social events, there are many unforeseen events waiting to ruin our training routine. Be preventive, have different choices available. Being able to rain outdoors is a great thing, but don’t undervalue the benefits of a good spinning class or treadmill session to make up for that teacher-parents night. Keep in mind that it is not only about building up distance: an effective training program should also include cross-training as part of our routine to help to build up upper and lower body strength.