The All-American Marathon is coming up in March, and many members of the Fort Bragg community choose to run this race as their first marathon.
Marathons are not impossible races for beginning runners — they just require time, dedication and planning. Running 26.2 miles is not a decision to be taken lightly, and successful marathoners perform research and commit to a training regimen before and after signing up for the race.
Beginners are more prone to mistakes because they do not have the same training and race experiences as more seasoned runners. Active.com highlighted a few rookie mistakes in a recent article.
Trying to get in one last long run too close to the marathon. An 18 to 20 mile race takes four weeks to recover from, so runners who push themselves through one of these runs within a few weeks of a race will not be 100 percent come race day.
Not refueling during the race. If a participant begins to feel the effects of food and water depletion during the marathon, it is already too late. Runners should consume a sufficient energy source with electrolytes around mile six.
Going out too hard in the first few miles. Many beginners push themselves to run fast at the start of the race because they think it will help their finish time in case they slow down at the end. In reality, this technique backfires because it burns up too much energy. Set a steady pace to use throughout the race.
Trying something new on race day. Beginners must ensure they know how their body reacts to any supplement they plan to use during the race by using it during training.
Indulging in a big, comforting post-race meal. Too much heavy food after a marathon delays recovery. Runners should refuel with high-quality protein right after finishing the marathon and eat a reasonable meal that evening.
First-time marathoners usually welcome all the advice they can get, and the guidance below from the Active.com website serves to help all marathoners, from couch potatoes to Olympians.
Cross training improves overall running performance. Runners who cycle in strength training, Pilates and yoga are more successful because they use their muscles in different ways than those who strictly run.
Pace yourself and be aware of new obstacles on race day such as crowding, weather, different terrain, etc.
Make sure you do something active and get blood flowing the day after the race to encourage healing in your legs.
You should be able to run 20 to 25 miles a week before jumping into a training routine. Otherwise, you may push your body too hard and injure yourself.
Know yourself and your training area. Train when you are at your best and most energetic. Run scenic routes to stay engaged in the sometimes monotonous process of marathon training.
Listen to your body. If you need to walk, then walk. Don’t press yourself to keep running if you feel a cramp, especially when you first start training.
Motivate yourself with a partner or group training. This promotes accountability and camaraderie, which are important motivating factors when training for a marathon.
Set mini goals and reward yourself. When you plan out your training schedule, include small milestones, such as running a 10K without stopping, and reward yourself with a massage or something else that will keep you motivated.
Grete Waitz is one of the most accomplished long distance runners of all time. She won the New York City Marathon nine times and set three marathon World Records. She shares some of her vast knowledge in the book “Run Your First Marathon.”
Waitz encouraged new runners to take it slow and let their body adjust to running. She said that basic exercisers (those who walk regularly, play with their kids outside, etc.) should start with a beginning running program before jumping into a marathon training program to avoid injury.
Once acclimated to running, Waitz said that beginners mustn’t rush into things. They should find a progressive training program that challenges them but still allows them to ease into marathoning. This training regimen should encourage beginners to make running a habit so it becomes natural, like brushing their teeth.
Building up to long runs slowly is the safest way to go for new runners, said Waitz. When beginners do start on the long runs, they shouldn’t run with high intensity during the early miles. She said, long, slow runs with a steady pace are better for training purposes, according to .
To solidify the habit, runners must be determined to make running a part of their daily routine, said Waitz. Runners can always find an excuse not to train, but she encouraged them to say yes to training instead of finding that excuse.
It is helpful to talk to Family members and friends who have participated in marathons and ask their advice to assist with your preparation, according to Waitz. She recommended that beginners also keep a training diary and record the food they ate and how they prepared before good and bad training runs.
Like many experts, Waitz emphasized the importance of running outside as much as possible because it replicates race conditions. She said that a treadmill is an okay substitute if runners absolutely cannot run outside, but it works different muscles, so it is impossible to train properly for a marathon solely using a treadmill. Any training runs should always include a warm up, cool down and stretch to help prevent injury, according to research cited by Waitz.
Waitz encouraged beginners to consider running a shorter race before the marathon to get their body used to race conditions. 10Ks or half marathons are good tests of marathon readiness if runners have been training for a good amount of time — five weeks for the 10K and 10 to 13 weeks for the half marathon.
Whatever your training routine, Waitz said it is important to include hill running during the middle phase of training because strengthens leg muscles and can prepare runners for marathon road conditions.
One of the most important aspects of running is form. Marathoners must be aware of their running form, including posture, how they carry their arms and how their foot strikes the ground, said Waitz. She recommended that runners stand up straight, have hands loosely cupped and make sure the heel strikes the ground before rolling onto the ball of the foot.
Runners can find training plans for the All-American Marathon at www.allamericanmarathon.com/training.