You don’t have to be a professional runner in order to run a marathon, but you will definitely need to prepare. The main reward that you should be aiming at for your first marathon is finishing it, rather than merely participating – it’s more of a competition with yourself than with other people (unless you are a professional). Here are some tips on how to prepare for your first marathon.
Slowly does it
The best way to get things started is simply going outside for a run. In these initial stages of preparation, you are running on your own. No one but you dictates the pace and your training sessions, but you may need just a little push from time to time. Also, focusing on your technique should be your priority. Of course, over time, you’ll gradually increase your running distance and pace, but during the first couple of training sessions, you should let your body guide you. In fact, you’re not even competing against yourself, you’re merely trying to get a feel of what it is to run for an extended time period. Focus on the moment; don’t think where you’re going, but where you currently are.
Technique is crucial
Unlike sprinting, your actual movements for jogging are pretty much set in stone, but there are other technique aspects that are extremely important for running a marathon. For example, breathing – learning how to properly handle this aspect of jogging is vital for your performance. However, you shouldn’t let your pace dictate your breathing or the other way around.In fact, you need to get the feel of how to synchronize the two, up to the point where the entire process becomes automatic. Running to a metronome can certainly help you achieve the natural breathing balance while running, but stacking your iPod with your favorite tunes is significantly more interesting. Keep in mind that you will have to dedicate some time to coming up with the right BPM for your running playlist.
When it comes to running a marathon, there are certain aspects of professional equipment that transcend its basic purpose – providing a comfortable workout. For example, quality running shoes will help you both perform better in a marathon, as well as reduce the damaging effects of concrete on your knees, which are likely to occur with less-than-professional shoes. Furthermore, as a long-distance runner, you will benefit from quality gym clothes– purposely-designed materials will soak the sweat more efficiently and protect your body from cold air. Even as an amateur marathon runner, you should come well-equipped.
Join the pack
When you run alone, you get to move around wherever you want, freely dictating your pace. However, during a marathon, being surrounded with other runners means adjusting to completely different terms, both physically and mentally.
It is worth mentioning that running in groups can influence an individual in psychological terms, too. It may make you feel nervous and anxious and mess with your target pace, which is of absolute essence in marathon running.
After a couple of weeks of working out, you should invite some physically well-prepared friends to run alongside you – this will go a long way in simulating the real thing that you’re preparing for.
Unlike the majority of other sports activities, marathon running doesn’t have to be about being better than other people – it’s about reaching a milestone achievement by finishing the race. Of course, there is plenty of room for competition, which comes after you have years of practice and experience behind you. It’s all about strategizing and controlling your breathing – getting the feel for marathon running is the entire point.