A lifetime of running requires proper training and recovery, whether you're preparing for a full marathon, a half marathon, or a 5K. Here are some crucial pointers and advice that I prefer to abide by for pre-race preparation and post-race recovery now that the weather is becoming warmer and the marathon season is well underway. These steps have undoubtedly been helpful to me in the past, and I believe they will be for you as well. Let's go!
It's time to decide on a training schedule before selecting a race in the weeks and months beforehand. The week before a marathon is not the time to begin training; instead, take your time while gradually increasing your distance and stamina.
Many marathon training programs last 12 to 20 weeks, giving you plenty of time to build strength and factor in the required recuperation time. Whether you are a novice marathon runner or an accomplished athlete, your training program will be based on your running experience and the distance you will be covering. With mileage increasing each week to anywhere between 30 and 50 miles per week, depending on your ability level and the type of race you're running, 3-5 runs per week are perfect for the average runner training for a marathon.
As an illustration, you should accomplish one lengthy run of approximately 12 to 15 miles every seven to ten days of your training regimen, increasing the distance to 20 miles as you near the finish of your program. As a general rule, you should strive to increase your weekly distance by around 10% each week, and be sure to take your rest days by not running on them. Naturally, you will run less distance for shorter events, but the same kind of schedule should be followed.
The days leading up to the race are crucial for your mind and body after finishing a training regimen. I always try to do my homework and plan out the logistics of race day so that I have one less thing to worry about on race day. I make sure I have my bib number, all the necessary paperwork for registration, and that I am aware of how to get to the race site, where to park, and where to check in.
I then look up the weather to make sure I have the right equipment and attire. Generally speaking, runners dress around 15 degrees warmer than the real temperature, and rain will present different challenges that you will need to overcome. Additionally, make sure you've run in the outfits you decide to wear to the race so you can be confident in their comfort. This also applies to running shoes (I know because I've had about ten blisters! ).
Never wear brand-new clothes or shoes to a race without first breaking them in. Additionally, if at all possible, avoid running the day before the marathon and attempt to do your final training two days before the event.
The three days preceding the race may be the most crucial for getting your body ready for race day. The two main factors are nutrition and hydration. Some runners are unclear of what to eat and drink not just on race day but also in the days beforehand, whether or not they think these days are just as crucial.
It is extremely typical to aim for 70 to 80% of your calories to come from carbohydrates when choosing what to eat in the 2-3 days leading up to the race. These calories can also come from beverages. Eat your largest meal two nights prior to the race rather than the night of, as doing so may result in digestion or sleep problems. Aim for 4 to 8 ounces of water per hour, and avoid alcohol and caffeine-containing beverages, which can dehydrate you. My training runs have taught me a lot about how my body responds to different foods and beverages. This may also give me a decent idea of what I'll want to eat and drink in the days before the marathon.
Last but not least, I make sure that my sleep routine is consistent and that I am receiving at least eight hours of sleep every night, especially since I might have trouble sleeping the night before the race and will need to be well rested for that night.
It all comes down to mental and physical preparation on race day. Having a mantra or statement that you can mentally repeat to yourself when times are difficult or when a challenging hill is in front of you is a wonderful idea.
Whatever strategies you use to get there will do; the main thing is to keep your attention on crossing the finish line. I always try to think about something else besides the race, whether it's what I'm going to do that night or the following week. Keep a positive attitude and allow the enthusiasm of the other runners inspire you to keep going. Having a support group of family and friends with you is an additional smart move. The biggest motivator of all can occasionally be knowing that your loved ones are waiting for you at the finish line.
Physically, you should be sure to hydrate with 16 ounces of water or less, preferably no more, two hours before the race. You should hydrate enough to get you started but not so much that it upsets your stomach because there will be hydration stations throughout the route.
Be cautious when making your breakfast menu selection. Before long runs, it is a good idea to eat something you typically eat so you can predict how your body will respond (again try to have a similar routine from what worked well when you were training). A whole grain bagel with peanut butter is a good example of a choice that combines complex carbohydrates and protein. Some people also steer clear of dairy products because they are known to aggravate digestive issues in many people.
In terms of scheduling, I try to eat my first meal two to three hours prior to the start of the race. On the day of the race, you don't want to go for a complete run, but you should warm up. Dynamic stretches and a little moderate jogging are the best warm-up exercises to get the blood flowing and the muscles warmed up.
After the race, in my opinion, you should celebrate your success and rest. Don't neglect these crucial actions since the hours and days after race day are just as crucial as the days before race day.
Drink several cups of water or sports drinks and consume simple carbs (like bananas or other fruit) to refuel and repair your body in the hours right following your race. The day after the marathon, I always enjoy doing some light stretching and going for a quick jog. Take at least a week off from running totally if you are healthy before reintroducing running into your regimen; full muscle recovery can take up to two weeks.
Finally, although I should do it more often, I have seen that some runners find it more advantageous to concentrate on cross training in the weeks after a race. This will help to recover your body from straight running while also rebuilding your muscular strength and endurance.
Hope that was helpful. After a LONG winter, I am eager to resume my program and have already signed up for three races this year.