As winter starts coming to an end and professional runners from around the world start to prepare for marathon season, the focus starts to settle on Oklahoma City. The New York City Marathon, the Boston Marathon and others attract the world’s best long distance athletes and for most people in Oklahoma City, it’s an honor to be among the cities with the top marathons. Especially because Oklahoma City’s Memorial Marathon only exists because of a tragic, deeply personal event.
As people start to prepare and as cyclists, joggers and professional and recreational runners start fueling for these early spring events, whether it be a marathon or triathlon, it brings one to wonder: how do people train for such strenuous events? For some, these marathons are extensions of themselves; proof that they can accomplish anything and live the life they were born into, which is a long distance athlete. For others, these are events they simply want to check off on their bucket lists; to be able to say they’ve pushed themselves to the farthest depths of their athletic abilities. It’s the personal achievement for most that makes them push themselves to do something they never thought possible. Whatever the reason, these athletes are willing to put the uppermost strain on their bodies and minds.
So, for the average recreational local athlete who’s only run 5K or 10K races, the idea of training for a marathon can be exhausting. Whether you’re trying to run for the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon or a triathlon, here’s the best tips on how to train safely as an amateur.
Don’t jump into it
Whether you’re running or diving into Lake Hefner for the Redman Triathlon, don’t do a marathon unless you’ve been training with consistent mileage for at least a year. One of the most common injury causes is taking on too much, too fast. If you’re used to running 5Ks, just race in a 5K unless you give yourself several months to train for the 10K. According to REI’s website, you shouldn’t increase more than 50 miles in the 4 months leading up to the race and should train at a pace, in which it’s easy to carry on a conversation. Most training plans involve a 12 to 20 week training period with no more than a 10 percent weekly mileage increase. So, if you’re trying to run a marathon, you should be running at least 30 miles a week already.
Do the intervals
Many professional athletes practice interval training. Training at intervals means to train repetitively at a faster pace than usual at a shorter distance with recovery time in between. For example, if you run five miles every day, go ahead and run three of those miles at your fastest pace, then lightly jog or walk the other two miles. Doing this at least a couple days a week can help your body get used to the intensity of a race and will help you run your regular tempo runs faster.
Let your body recover from training
It’s a good idea to train five days a week and let your body rest for two days. The recovery time you get will help your muscles and your mind fight the “burn out” that can happen if you over-train.
Get proper nutrition
Drink plenty of water and pack up on the carbs. According to Runner’s World, you should consume about 30 to 60 grams of carbs per hour of exercise. One popular racing trend is energy gel bags. These are carb loaded gel packs you can take with you on a run and drink while your running. However, you should eat a pre run meal consisting of up to 500 calories a couple hours before your run.
Whether training for a 5k, half marathon or the 13th Annual Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon, seeking out the right sources for training is important. Sources such as runningplanet.com, runnersworld.com and rei.com have great advice on how to start training and what to eat, along with detailed pdf. print outs of training schedules. Most importantly, make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard and are allowing plenty of recovery time.