How To Train For A Marathon The Right Way

Where to start and how to survive.

By: Noah Lehava

Of all the things we do in the name of health and fitness—switching out regular H2O for alkaline water, eating tons of fermented foods, trying out new workouts while not embarrassing ourselves, just to name a few—running a marathon is by far the most intimidating. Maybe it’s the months of dedicated preparation that lead up to a should-be 4.5 hours of steady running. Sounds a bit, uh, painful, if you ask us. Still, we’re never ones to turn down a challenge, even those that scare the sh*t out of us. And as we do with most things, we resolved to tie up our laces and heed advice from skilled professionals like Nikki Warren, co-owner of Kaia FIT, also known as the most realistic fitness method we've ever heard of, who told us where to start, how to get over our mental blocks and how train without injury. Ready, set, go.

 

ON WHERE TO START:

“The first thing we recommend to new runners is to listen to their bodies. We encourage them to walk when they need to walk, and run when they're ready to run. Going at your pace, regardless of how fast others are going, is step number one.

Start by walking and ease into your mileage gains. Do a one-minute run, two-minute walk, repeated 10 times. Completing this a few times each week will increase your run intervals by 30 or 60 seconds and decrease your walking intervals by the same amount. Once you have mastered your pace, you can focus on increasing your distance. Running anywhere from one to five miles is a great start.”

 

ON HOW OFTEN YOU SHOULD RUN:

“Ideally you should run three days a week, training for about an hour each time. This gives our bodies time to recover.”

 

ON THE OTHER EXERCISES YOU SHOULD BE DOING WHILE TRAINING:

“Running is a full-body sport. When using proper technique and form, you are working your shoulders, posterior chain, core, hamstrings, glutes, quadriceps and calf muscles. Doing core strengthening exercises such as plank, bridge dips and hip raises will help strengthen the lower back, obliques and transverse abdominals, protecting the spine from compression due to repeated impact on hard surfaces. Squats and lunges help build powerful glutes, hamstrings and quads, while plyometric exercises like squat jumps and thigh busters will help strengthen those quick-twitch muscles used to increase speed and agility.”

 

ON HOW TO KNOW THE LENGTH OF TIME YOU NEED TO WORK OUT:

“It really varies for different people at different stages of activity. Adapting expectations based on your experience and the amount of regular activity you’re involved in is a good practice. It's important to build cardiovascular endurance and muscular strength slowly to avoid injury. A successful workout can be 10 minutes if necessary, as it’s all about how you use and plan your time!”

 

ON THE STRETCHES YOU NEED TO BE DOING PRE- AND POST-RUN:

“Stretching is very important for aiding in recovery and returning contracted muscles to full range of motion. Hamstring stretches and quad stretches help release tension in those prime mover muscles used in running; hip stretches, such as the yoga pose ‘pigeon pose,’ help release tension in hips. Calf and ankle stretches are great for strengthening and releasing tension in smaller muscles. It's important to check in with your body after each run to see what other areas may need more attention. Foam rolling and other myofascial release techniques may be beneficial after workouts and runs.”

 

ON WHEN TO START YOUR MARATHON DISTANCE TRAINING:

“An average training length is a minimum of 18 weeks, giving you enough time to build up properly for the 26.2 miles.”

 

ON THE IDEAL TRAINING REGIMEN:

“Our I Kan Run program and a number of training programs recommend three days a week of running and two days of cross-training. We break up our training schedule in a shorter-run day (usually three to five miles), a middle-distance day (five to seven miles) and a long-distance day (starts at five or six miles and builds by one or two miles each week).”

 

ON WHAT TO DO THE WEEK BEFORE THE RACE:

“The week before race day, we recommend continuing to run and cross-train but decrease distance so your body is not over-trained or exhausted.”

 

ON HOW TO WARM UP AND COOL DOWN:

“To warm up, begin with exercises like grapevine drills, high-knee skips, fast feet steps and lunges; they awaken your muscles and increase your heart rate to prepare your body. Dynamic stretching brings heat to your muscles and mimics the action/movement you need to be light on your feet and engaged as you run. Static stretching is the best way to cool down. Stretching when your systems are warm elongates your muscles and increases your flexibility to avoid injury. Examples of static stretches are runner's lunge, side lunges, quad stretches and calf stretches.”

 

ON HOW TO MENTALLY PREPARE FOR RACE DAY:

“It is normal to experience anxiety before a race; the most important thing to remember is to channel your anxiety into positive thoughts only. Be grateful for the opportunity and proud of how far you’ve come. Preparing with gratitude meditation can make all the difference in attitude and performance.”

 

ON HOW TO MENTALLY MAKE IT TO THE END OF THE RACE:

“Run with your heart. While training, log the moments you feel less than stellar so you can remember how you handled those issues when you face them again on race day. It's no secret that our minds give out before our bodies do, so learn to shift your motivation to the profoundly strong and brave muscle that is your heart.”

 

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