Three Tips for Worry-Free Marathon Training

A good training program is an essential part of preparing for a marathon, and fortunately there are a plethora of sound and effective programs available to runners of all ability levels. But preparing for a successful 26.2-mile run takes more than a schedule of workouts, and the coaches at CTS got together to provide three tips to help you have a great experience at your next marathon:

Constantly rotate through two pairs of shoes

A lot of people know that running shoes wear out and need to be replaced every few months (4-6, depending on your weight and how much you run), but many make the mistake of wearing one pair thin before suddenly switching to a brand new pair. To make the transition easier on your feet, start alternating between your old pair and a new pair when the old pair is halfway through its lifespan. Then as the old pair wears out, you’ll be halfway through the new pair’s lifespan and you can keep the cycle going. Remember to mark the shoes with the date you started wearing them, however, because it’s easy to get them mixed up. And mark them in several places because some marks will inevitably rub off.

Start training earlier to stay healthier

Injuries can easily derail a runner’s marathon training, and this is especially true for first-timers and relatively inexperienced runners. Doing too much too soon (either volume or intensity, or both) is a leading cause of injuries for runners. In many cases, the actual workload isn’t terribly high, but it is higher than they are ready to handle. If you have a marathon on your wish list, don’t wait until 12-20 weeks to start training for it. Start running and gradually building up your aerobic engine now. Lengthening the training period enables an athlete to incorporate more recovery between big efforts; it also gives you more flexibility to get back on track in case of an illness, business trip, etc. When athletes feel pressure to get in as much training as they can, that’s when they tend to disregard recovery, pile on the workload, and end up injured. And after you finish your marathon and have recovered from the event, continue with your run training so you can more easily ramp it up again for another marathon in the future.

Practice something related to your race every week

Whether you’re a marathon newbie or a veteran runner, fitness is only part of having a fun and successful race day. Perfecting your techniques around eating, drinking, and pacing is important for avoiding race-day mistakes that can keep you from reaching your goals. Practice grabbing a water bottle off a fence post while running at race pace so you can do it without thinking during the event. If you’re traveling to your event, consider the food options that will be available for your race-day breakfast. Find out if and what your hotel serves for breakfast, look up restaurants near your hotel, or plan to take and prepare your own food. And if you’re planning on using the aid stations during your race for food and hydration, make sure to find out what the race will be providing. Try those specific foods and hydration products in your own training to determine if they work for you. Marathons typically have aid stations every mile, so establish a nutrition/hydration plan and space your eating and drinking during training at similar time or distance intervals. In other words, if you’re going to grab water every two miles during your marathon, drink every two miles during training runs to make sure that strategy allows you to maintain the pace you want to hold.


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