Tips to Train Like a Marathoner from Tips to Train Like a Marathoner

Tips to Train Like a Marathoner

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Tips to Train Like a Marathoner

Fall is one of the most popular seasons for running. Almost every weekend there is a race ranging in distance, theme and charitable focus. Training yourself, both mentally and physically, to cover 26.2 miles takes several months, depending on how much running experience you have. The hardest part about preparing for a marathon or a long-distance runner in general is getting in a regular routine. “That’s why a lot of people join a program or a club – so they can have a regime to stick to,” Jaime Quinn, a NYS licensed physical therapist and regional clinical director of Professional Physical Therapy, says. 

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Dedication

Long runs are the cornerstone of training for most new runners. Accept the fact that you will have bad days during which you’ll question your training and motives. But move on. It’s all about consistency. Run at the same time or on the same path on certain days to create a natural rhythm for the body. It becomes a habit, making it easier to follow through with. Lack of consistency is the easiest way to fall off track and end up regretting your decision to train for a marathon.

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Miles

One factor that never changes in any marathon preparation program is the fact that you have to run a lot of miles while training. The body has to get ready to endure the strain and pressure. You have to keep running, but you should also do spinning, swimming, or yoga, Quinn says. Cross-training is key. “Your body is recovering by increasing blood flow to the muscles but you’re working different muscles,” she adds.

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Strategy

A strategy involves dissecting how your goal fits into your everyday life. How will you adjust the family schedule to incorporate more runs and what will you do when that’s not possible? A huge challenge is following a proper and healthy diet while training. Make sure you’re never dehydrated and consume a proper balance of carbs and protein – two very common mistakes.

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Time off

Runners should take at least one full day of complete rest a week, Quinn says. Don’t underestimate how important time off is. “The day after a run should be dedicated to active rest,” she adds. This means swimming, biking, working out on the elliptical – anything but running. “A good training program is 3 days of running, 3 days of active rest in between, and one day of doing nothing.”

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Strength training

Make sure you focus on movements to work your core and glutes. “When they are strong and stable, they help prevent injuries to the lower extremities,” Quinn says. You have to keep the core strong and some of the best exercises for it are side-lying clams, which strengthen the hip abductors and are commonly used in rehab for lower back pain and hip injuries. Other good exercises are planks and bridges, she adds.

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Speed

If you want to run fast in races, you have to run fast in training. “Speed is similar to volume,” Quinn says. People who are training for a marathon should be on a program to increase speed/volume gradually so the body can adapt.” Running faster will force the body to use previously unused fast-twitch muscle fibers. Doing too much too soon will result in injury, so it’s important to sprinkle in speed work in small doses, in strides.

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Injury prevention

The key to prevent any injury is maintaining flexibility, Quinn says. It’s just as crucial as being strong and fit. The ability to easily move around is also crucial for back pain, increasing blood supply and nutrients to the muscles, decreasing soreness, and improving posture. Right flexibility is directly linked to full range of motion exercises such as squats and deadlifts. Hip range-of-motion and flexibility are the basis for optimal body mechanics.

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Stretches for the foot

The best stretch for the foot is the calf stretch. You can do it just by hanging off the edge of a step. It helps against plantar fasciitis, which is a common running injury, Quinn says. The stretch also helps with ankle problems. The inflammation of a thick band of tissue connecting the heel bone and the toes will cause pain in the heel or arch of the foot. This injury can be self-diagnosed – it usually hurts the worst in the morning after you wake up and take a few steps.

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Best moves for pre and post run

Before you start running, do a combination of dynamic and static stretches. Walking lunges and butt kickers are a good way to warm up the body and prepare it for physical activity, Quinn says. A great post-run exercise is foam rolling on hamstrings. It helps loosen the tissue for more efficient stretching afterwards.

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Muscle cramps

The best way to prevent cramping is staying hydrated. “You have to drink more than the average person, especially on run days,” Quinn says. A good recovery method is icing the area, if it’s sore, and getting a tissue massage to increase blood flow and to get the lactic acid out of the muscle.

Tips to Train Like a Marathoner