Preparing For Your First Marathon ~ The Foundations of Marathon Training
The prospect of running a marathon is intimidating, to say the least. Although it looks rather heroic, many people don't realize the amount of work that goes into preparing one's self for the daunting task of literally going the distance and, finally, crossing the finish line.
Okay, okay—training for a marathon, especially your first one, can be hard work. But, you don't have to make that type of work entirely hard. You just have to put effort AND commitment into it to make it worth your while.
According to experts who have literally been around the block a few times, there are four primary elements of marathon training: long runs, base mileage, speed work and, most importantly, rest.
Foundation #1: Base Mileage
If you're planning to train for your first marathon, know that most training regimes last anywhere between 12 to 20 weeks. There's a reason why these regimes last that long: the prolonged training period really helps you build your running endurance and economy, while also getting your body used to the rigor of running.
Beginners are recommended to build their weekly mileage to at least 50 miles, preferably over the four months that will lead to your first marathon. Pacing is key—don't rush through your mileage. And, as a beginner, don't expect to be able to run on about 25 to 30 miles a week, either. Having built your mileage to 50 ensures that you'll be able to commit to the work required to complete your first marathon. So, don't short change your body.
Foundation #2: Long Run
Beginners will also need to get to a point where they can take a long run every week. It's best to do this once every 7 to 10 days, adding on a mile or two every week. But, don't forget to reduce your mileage a few miles every 3 weeks to prevent your body from getting too overexerted. The long-short-repeat pattern allows your body to adjust to the exertion that running places upon it. Pretty soon you’ll have the endurance to run a marathon. A good place to start would be a half marathon, which has grown quite popular.
Foundation #3: Speed Work
Although optional, speed work lets beginners potentially boost their aerobic capabilities by introducing interval training to their weekly runs. Intervals, to provide an example, are comprised of a series of short and fast runs in reps that are accompanied by slower recovery jogs after each rep.
Foundation #4: Rest/Recovery
The most important part of learning how to run a marathon is knowing when to stop. Rest days allow your body to completely recover from your training, and essentially helps you from becoming injury prone while out running. During your rest periods come recovery. And, naturally, recovery allows your body to heal from its exertion, priming itself for the next outing so you can perform much better.