5 Things You Learn While Training for a Marathon (From Someone Training for a Marathon – Again)
The marathon: a famous distance that has its official roots in the late 1800’s Olympics and many thousands of participants in hundreds of different races across the country and worldwide each year. To reach the 26.2 mile finish line, runners train for months to handle the demanding endurance race – learning how to fuel properly, what tips and tricks work best, and slowly working their way up to higher miles week by week. (That doesn’t even address the elites, who spend even more hours with a grueling schedule.) Here are some things you can expect to learn well before race day when you’re training for a marathon:
- Fatigue is Omnipresent: The more miles you begin to rack up each week, the more you learn to accept that you’re always just semi-tired/fatigued. Rest is incredibly important, and skimping on sleep is a quick recipe for illness or injury. When you have long weekend runs, you just can’t stay up late on the weekends, either. Tip: Sleep is just as important as fuel for getting you across the finish line healthy.
- “Runger” is Real!: Runger (run-hunger) is a definite part of your training. The more calories you’re burning as you log miles, the hungrier you may feel. So you’re running around 25-30 miles a week, you should be slender like a cheetah, right? Not so fast. Unfortunately, if you don’t find the proper balance of healthy fuel your body needs, “train gain” (weight gained during the training period) can be a side effect. Tip: For longer runs, plan your run-recovery snacks or meals in advance – that way you’re not tempted to chow through the pantry when you get back. Remember, try to balance healthy carbs and protein.
- You Need to Loosen Up!: Since you’ll typically have one long run a week, with several mid-to longer runs and possible speed work in between, your muscles are getting a regular workout and will probably be somewhat tighter than average. For instance, areas like your calves, quads, or hip flexors may all need regular stretching to maintain necessary flexibility. If you start to notice discomfort, it might not be injury – it might be overworked muscles that need some stretching. (It’s always smart to check it out – try a free injury screening to make sure that injury won’t take you out of your training!) Tip: Set aside time each day for light to moderate stretching.
- Respect Your Rest Days: It may be tempting to catch up on some other workout or activity on your rest days, but if your body is starving for a break, you really ought to take it easy. Lounge a bit, maybe ice anything that’s feeling a little irritated, and throw in a nap for good measure. One of your best rest days can be after your long run day – and once you start hitting 15-20 mile training runs, you’ll need it! Tip: Keep at least one rest day a week free of plans so you can really get some restorative rest.
- It Goes Fast: It’s hard to imagine when you’re sweating out another 8-mile training run after work that this will ever be over. It will, and that’s when you want your training to pay off. Enjoy the days you spend working toward your goal and dialing in your marathon plan – because soon you’ll be lining up with hundreds of like-minded souls all hoping to hit that finish line. Tip: Once your event is over, you may feel a little adrift. For some, signing up for a 5k, or planning a massage or vacation provides a bright spot after you’ve completed such a huge goal. Definitely buy that 26.2 sticker at the race expo – you’ve earned it!
If you’re getting stuck in your training, Body One Physical Therapy is here to get you across the finish line! We’re locally-owned and operated, with three locations serving Central Indiana: North Indianapolis, Fishers, and Zionsville. Don’t wait until a small complaint becomes a bigger injury – let the experts at Body One get on the road to your own PR (personal record)!