Thursday, January 12, 2012

Training for Your First Marathon

Now that it's a new year, you may have written "Run a Marathon" on your New Year's Resolution list.  The marathon is a noble goal for sure but it requires a lot of patience.  Physiological changes, not to mention the need for psychological changes, occur around the 20 mile mark as your body (and mind) is looking for "fuel" - anything that will keep it going since the usual reserves and resources have been expended at this point.  That doesn't mean you can't run one...you just need to plan!

If you run at least 25 miles per week, then are you are ready to start a typical 18 week program.  If however, you are under 20 miles per week, then you need to build up your base by extending into a longer plan.  A good estimate is 9 months if you are starting from 10 miles or less.  Why does it take so long?  Because you increase the mileage very slowly.

Let's say you run about 10 miles per week right now.  Each week, you can add 10%, or 1 mile, to your weekly distance.  Once you hit 20 miles per week, then you add 2 miles (10%)  per week and so on.  By adding mileage gradually, you avoid the "too much, too soon" problems that lead to injuries.

By building your mileage slow, the marathon becomes much more "doable" and you avoid injuries.  Just remember to take it slow and easy.  Also, you do not need to have any long run over 20 miles.  Once you hit this distance, injuries become more likely, and you also need to then ease up for several days to recover from such a distance.  Ideally, you will only run a couple of these 20 milers in the 6 weeks leading up to the marathon.

Of course, if you have any questions, I'm always available.  Just call or email and I'll be happy to assist you in achieving your goals.

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