After a year of many cancellations, it is very exciting to see races returning! While running was never canceled, running races can be an integral part of one's running experience. Whether you are doing them just for fun, for the atmosphere, for motivation, having a goal for your workouts, someone forced you into it, or for bragging rights to your friends and family, we can all start signing up again!
Now that races have returned, so have marathons, the holy grail of races (in my opinion). Whether you have run a marathon before, are training now for a fall marathon, or would like to run one in the future, who doesn’t want some training advice?
Now there are many ways to train and many different types of programs. Everyone is also different and comes from different backgrounds and has different experiences. With each training cycle, we learn a little bit more about what works for us and how to better train in the future. With that in mind, here are some marathon training tips that I wish I knew beforehand, and that I have found very helpful over the course of running 4 marathons and 5 half marathons.
Varying up your training
When it comes to marathon training, many people put most of the focus on the long run. While the long run is very important, let's not forget about the other runs. While the marathon is run at a steady pace, it's important to vary your pace when training. Adding in tempo runs and interval training not only helps you get faster, but it also helps break up the monotony of training.
Emphasize weekly mileage
As stated before, the long run is important. However certainly not the only thing to focus on when measuring how you are progressing. It can be more beneficial to consider your total mileage for the week. You gain fitness day after day, not just based off of one weekly one therefore, your total weekly mileage will give a greater sense of your training and readiness status for a marathon rather than just the long run. If you need to adjust your program due to what you have going on that week, try and adjust so you can still stick to the same weekly mileage you were supposed to run that week.
Marathon training will start taking up more and more of your time, but with good planning it is certainly possible to fit into a busy schedule. Look at your schedule ahead of time in order to fit your long runs in on the days you have the most time. If you live within a reasonable distance from work (and you commute to work these days) consider a hack such as run commuting.
Don’t just run
You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again. Strengthening is good for runners! While running will certainly be the majority of exercise you will do during marathon training, adding in strengthening will help improve your speed, endurance, and resiliency. In addition, cross training can also be effective in preventing burnout and further injury. Just give it a try, a little can go a long way!
Make sure your easy days are EASY
Now I am the first to admit that this can be harder than it sounds. It can be hard for many people to take your easy days easy. “What if I am feeling good and I can push myself harder?” It might be tempting, however our body needs easy runs. If you put your full effort into all of your runs, you will eventually run out of energy sooner than you would like. Save your energy and effort for your speed/tempo work and long runs, and actually make the easy day easy, even if it feels weird. Your body (and your training) will thank you later.
A very underrated tool to improve your marathon training is sleep. While it may be hard to start incorporating your runs into your daily life as your weekly mileage increases, try the best you can not to sacrifice sleep. You will feel better, and run better, and it should be more of a priority than people think. In addition, listen to your body in regards to recovery. Let yourself recover, drink enough water, and give your body enough fuel and nutrition.
Now again, these are all suggestions that can be helpful for your training, however everyone is different. There is not a hard and fast rule for how to train. And keep in mind the most important tip is to do your best and remember at the end of the day...you are running a marathon. And that is awesome. Remember why you are doing it, and be proud of yourself for all the hard work you are putting in.