So, an out of shape youngish guy wants to run a marathon, knows he kinda likes running, but doesn’t know where to begin. Does any of this sound familiar to you (insert gal as required)?
Well, I hope that if it does, I will be able to help you by sharing what worked for me when I started training for a marathon.
First you need to build a foundation. You used to run. Three miles is easy, right? Eeeehhhh….. its not killer, but remember that its been a while. You will be really sore the next day. And the day after. And maybe even the day after that. So you need to start off easy. 6 miles total each week for two weeks, spread the runs over 3 days. Go at an easy pace. Leave at least one rest day between each run.
Remember to stretch before and after the run. Oh, and one of the best tips I learned in my training was to drink a glass of milk within 20 minutes of finishing each run. I’ll go into details in another post, but for now, know that it has to do with protein and crabs and maximizing your body’s amazing self repair capabilities. So drink a glass of milk in addition to any water you might need. Find out why new runners gain weight while training for a marathon here.
Schedule Part 1:
Week 1: Monday 2miles / Wednesday 2miles / Saturday 2miles
Week 2: Tuesday 2miles / Thursday 2miles / Saturday 2miles
Think: baby steps. Don’t be too aggressive. You need to not burn yourself out, or injure yourself by increasing your distance or effort too quickly. At this point you may find yourself stiff and sore. This is where daily stretching comes in.
Tips for stretching:
- Don’t go fast
- Don’t bounce
- Stretch, count to 10, relax.
- Repeat until you feel great.
There are a lot of tricks to stretching where you can target specific muscles. I’ll go in to these in a later post. For now, if your body is stiff when you move it a certain way, try stretching in that direction.
Gear. Everyone loves gear. I know you want to find out about what gear is useful for running a marathon. There is a gizmo for every aspect of running. Its a lot of fun to look at all the nifty tools that are out there to help you while you run. There is nothing wrong with having some extra gadgetry, but my recommendation is to start out small, inexpensive, and light. You can add more later if you want to. I’ll cover gear in detail in a later post, but for now, here is what I recommend.
Minimum equipment list:
Shoes – go to a running store and get fitted for new shoes. Your feet are what connect you to the ground and carry you miles upon miles. Don’t go minimalist for now… I recommend experimenting with radical changes in running shoe types after you have accomplished your marathon, after you are in very good shape, and after you are familiar with your running style. I have a lot of thoughts about minimalist footwear, and I’ll cover that in a later post.
Clothing – running clothes are expensive! there is no need to go buy the latest and greatest smart fabric that will fold itself in your drawer and wipe the sweat off your forehead as you run. There is a use for those things (if you can afford them), but for now, you can just run in what ever you have. There are no wrong clothes to run in… just ones that you will discover work better than others for yourself to run in.
You are now two weeks into your marathon training schedule. Congratulations for sticking it out!
I’m sure you have experienced more than your fair share of soreness, aches and pains as you rediscovered muscles that you have not used in a while. Don’t worry, if you take care of yourself and don’t rush things, it will only get easier in this aspect of marathon training. Just keep up the light stretching, take some cold showers and/or use ice on sore joints and muscles.
You may already have noticed some slight improvement in your running experience. What I mean by that is you may notice any one (or a number) of the following.
With more running you will:
- Breathe with less effort while running
- Feel like the 2 mile distance is a little easier
- Feel better after completing your run
- Recover normal breathing/heart rate a little faster afterward
It will still require some willpower to get out and run on each training day. Check out the post on motivation – I wrote it especially for you. If you need an extra boost of motivation, you can leave a comment here or in the motivation post (I promise I’ll read it and get back to you), or you can subscribe to my motivational emails (coming soon).
Now to the training plan.
Your goal for the next 4 weeks is to increase your distance by approximately 10% each week. At this stage in the game that’s about 1 mile per week. See the plan below for details.
Week 3: Monday 2miles / Wednesday 2miles / Saturday 3miles (total 7 miles)
Week 4: Monday 2miles / Wednesday 2miles / Saturday 4miles (total 8 miles)
Week 5: Monday 2miles / Wednesday 3miles / Saturday 4miles (total 9 miles)
Week 6: Monday 3miles / Wednesday 3miles / Saturday 4miles (total 10 miles)
Note the Saturday ‘long run’ (or, ‘longer run’ at this point): its not much different from your midweek runs, but as the training program progresses, it will stretch out further and further ahead of the midweek runs. I like to keep the runs balanced in the beginning, not push too hard on the long runs, and keep midweek schedules manageable (for those who have to squeeze running around a busy life schedule). Also note that there is a break of at least one day between each run. I think that it is really important to give your body a break and a day to recover, especially when just starting out. When this program gets more intense, there will be some back-to-back days of running.
Now its your turn. What are the challenges you faced during the first two weeks of your training program? What has helped you get out and run this past week? Leave a comment below, I’d love to discuss it with you.
6 weeks down in your marathon training program! Good work! Not only are you building physical strength and endurance, but you are also building mental strength and endurance, a.k.a. willpower, by sticking to your training schedule and pushing yourself to do difficult things. Sometimes you just don’t feel like you have the energy to go out and run, or maybe you are really tired on a Saturday morning. This is where willpower comes in, and this is how you build it – by exercising it, just like any other muscle. Willpower is something you will need in large quantities as a marathon runner. With the time and distance involved in each race, you need to have a large reservoir on hand, because it will get depleted very quickly as the miles go by under your feet.
So, stick to the plan you committed to follow for your marathon training. In the words of Calvin’s dad (from Calvin and Hobbes): It builds character.
Here is your plan for the next few weeks. Still following the same basic formula. If you want to mix things up by running Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday, or Tuesday/Friday/Sunday or any other combination, feel free. Just remember that you need a ‘last day of the week’ for a reference to calculate your miles per week. and remember that day needs to be consistent. If you move it around to steal miles from the previous week – that’s cheating. And Santa Claus is watching you.
Oh, and don’t forget to take some time off in between runs to let your body recover.
Week 7: Monday 3 miles / Wednesday 3 miles / Saturday 5 miles (11 miles total)
Week 8: Monday 4 miles / Wednesday 3 miles / Saturday 5 miles (12 miles total)
Week 9: Monday 4 miles / Wednesday 3 miles / Saturday 6 miles (13 miles total)
Week 10: Monday 4 miles / Wednesday 4 miles / Saturday 6 miles (14 miles total)
Are you drinking your post-run recovery drink (milk, or chocolate milk)?
Some Additional Thoughts
You might be noticing some stiffness/soreness issues in your legs. Maybe its even starting to approach pain. If you really feel pain in any af the ways described below, you need to focus on taking care of the problem: don’t increase your weekly mileage until you have implemented the recovery/prevention strategies, and are feeling better. Remember, injuries do not get better by continuing a marathon training program.
Some of the most common sources of discomfort at this stage are runners knee (pain on the outside of your knee) , plantar fascitis (pain on the bottom of the arch of your foot), and shin splints (pain in your shins). I will have a post covering these items in more detail, but for now, search the internet to find information that will help you find relief and cure the problem for the future.
Now its your turn. How is your training program going at this stage? Have you broken any personal records for distance or speed?
Watch this video for some additional information and perspective:
originally published on howtotrainforamarathonhq