Today’s blog post is written by guest blogger Jennifer Short, PT at Athletico Garfield Ridge/Midway
Congratulations! You are registered for a Marathon, but now what? Running 26.2 miles at once seems daunting but with a plan and dedication you can accomplish this goal. Here are 5 tips to get you off and running on the right foot:
1. Invest in good running shoes
This is one of the most important things you can do as you start your marathon journey. While you pound the pavement this summer, good shoes will protect you from potential injury. This is not the place to scrimp and save. I recommend going to a running shoe store that will take the time to watch you run and look at the shape of your feet when fitting your shoes. Never buy a shoe based on the color!
Running shoes usually last 300-500 miles and that can vary with training surface and body weight. Per week, you will typically be running 15-40 miles and will likely need 2 pairs of shoes for your training and marathon. I like getting a new pair about 4 weeks prior to the marathon in order to break them in.
2. Find a training plan that fits your current fitness level
There are plans for every level of runner from beginner to seasoned veteran but it is important to assess your current fitness level before you chose a training program. It is easy for marathon alumni to fall off their training, especially this past winter with sub-zero temperatures. You may need to build your endurance level up before starting an advanced training program.
One of the biggest causes of running injuries is training errors – running too much or too fast before you are ready. Your long runs should be talking pace (able to hold short conversations) in order to build endurance without heading toward injuries. Athletico has a lot of great relationships with training groups and we encourage you to reach out them by clicking here.
3. Vary your workouts: they should encompass running, cross training, strengthening and stretching
Many people assume that the only training necessary for running is to run, but if you don’t strengthen and stretch as you train, you are putting yourself at a greater risk of injury. The leg and trunk muscles play a major role in cushioning your impact with each stride. The muscles’ ability to absorb shock decreases stress on tendons and joints in your legs and spine. Having 1-2 days a week that you can strengthen your muscles can help reduce those stresses.
Stretching is also very important and very easy to skip when you are training for a marathon. Inflexibility can affect your running biomechanics and can lead to overuse injuries. Stretching and using the foam roll after runs is a good way to battle the tightness that can occur.
These tips can help you maintain your optimal form and delay muscle fatigue but sometimes injuries just happen. When you begin your training, make sure to listen to your body. General muscle soreness is normal when starting a new exercise program but pain is a message from your body, and you should not ignore it. If you start experiencing aches and pain, it is best to figure out what’s going on early. Visit your neighborhood Athletico for a complimentary injury screen and get advice from the endurance experts (licensed physical therapist and certified athletic trainers) on what your next step should be.
4. Search for running groups in your area for long runs
Running groups are a great way to keep motivated and can help you not only complete, but also have fun during your training. Groups will typically meet on Saturday or Sunday for long runs in the city on the Lakefront path. They typically have pace groups and pacers to help you complete your long runs right on time. They have groups from the beginners to the advanced runner and are a blast to be a part of.
5. Sign up for a 20-miler
If you sign up for a training group, you don’t have to worry about this step. Every good marathon training program has a 20-mile run to prepare you for the real race. This is your dress rehearsal for the big show. However, running 20-miles on your own is a challenge, so groups in your area might have set up 20-mile events to get you ready. They come fully supported with pacers, hydration stations, nutrition and a post-race party! Once you complete this training run, you will know you are ready for the marathon!
With this plan in place you are ready to begin your Marathon journey. Good luck training and happy running!