The marathon, named after the real place in Greece where it started, stands out as the most well-known among all the distance running lengths. Set at the standard 26.2 miles (42.165 kilometers), the marathon had been the centerpiece of the Olympics for a long time, although of late this had been supplanted with other speedy track and field races that look exciting on TV.
Other long distance running lengths are mostly recreational. Marathons are exclusively competitive. And training for the marathon is a little different from that of a 10 or 5-kilometer race.
First, a runner has to get used to running at a so-called marathon pace for an extended time period in preparing for the race. There is no need to short and fast intervals in the training since this type of running is neither beneficial nor used at all.
The long run is the most important workout for the marathon. It is increasing a runner’s mileage once a week. It can be extended until the runner can do about 2 to 3 hours of running as a general upper limit.
The mileage increase should be gradual and gentle, not more than 5 kilometers per week. This weekly mileage has to be decided early on so that the increase can be planned accordingly. Ideally, the goal mileage is reached 3 to 4 weeks before the race.
The weekly mileage should not be more than 15 kilometers every other week. After which, the runner can start to include speed workouts.
Marathon pace running
This is simply the training where the running is done at the runner’s projected marathon pace. Typically, these are hard runs that can go for around 2 hours and should be treated like the marathon races themselves.
Running with somebody who has the same running speed or better is a big help. Your companion can help pace your speed in these workouts.
Another good idea is joining a half-marathon and run it at your marathon pace. It will help you prepare your real marathon race in a very effective way because you are using your actual pace.
Food, fluids and paraphernalia
In preparation for the marathon, it is important to condition your body to the food and drinks you are going to use. The experts’ advice is to hydrate yourself by drinking your fluids every 10 to 15 minutes during the run, whether you are thirsty or not.
Sports drinks can give a better boost of electrolytes than plain water. Try to find out what kind of drinks they are serving at the race and practice drinking it in your practice runs to check your actual reactions and to get used to it.
Practice using the carbohydrates-rich food you want to eat as well in these runs before the actual marathon. (During the run proper, whether in practice or actual race, avoid fiber in your food.)
Do the same thing with your gear. Break in your shoes, your clothes, your lip balm, lotions, etc. by actually using them during these practice runs. The aim is to get used to them and be comfortable with them during the actual race.
Other pre-race preparations
Lose your excess 10 pounds two weeks before the final long run. The final long run should also be two weeks before the marathon race itself. This final long run should be around 20 miles long, or 3 hours, whichever is less.
When you finally do enter the marathon, be sure you are fully rested, free of injuries and well-paced the previous weeks in your pre-race preparations. With the above considerations, you can improve your previous marathon time by a good 15 minutes or maybe a little lesser.
With enough motivation for another new and better record, you can follow the same routine and be able to whittle down again your previous marathon time to something you can be proud of. Distance running need not be too harsh. Enjoying it is part of its appeal, including the celebrated marathon.