This time of year we often get questions about what kind of training and prep is useful to get ready for running VCM in May. Coach Sam Davis has some great ideas about how to get ready to start more focused marathon training in January. For more information about our New2-26.2 training program and Coach Sam check out this blog post.
For most of the runners I coach for marathons, I have found that 18 weeks of training provides adequate time to make the physiological adaptions necessary to complete the marathon distance. Of course, there are several other factors which need to be considered when calculating training time including: running age (how many years have you been running), running experience (what distances you have run and races you’ve completed), and injury history.
Injury history brings me to the point of this letter; training for the marathon is hard! – Duh! The training will challenge you in ways that you’ve never experienced – it will become a period of self-discovery, so it’s important to know what you’re getting into.
Here are a few things I recommend you do to be better prepared once training commences:
- Get some Pre-hab! By this I mean go see a physical therapist and tell them you are planning on running your first marathon and you want to have a gait analysis done. Even if you are currently injury-free, having a gait analysis done can help the PT identify potential problems which, if ignored, could lead to injury. The training volume and the repetition of thousands of foot-strikes can expose weaknesses in your running. A PT can prescribe exercises to strengthen those weak areas. Remember that marathon preparation is more than just running, it requires strength training, as well.
- Run! Seriously, if you haven’t begun to run a few days a week, then you need to get started. The mileage isn’t as important as just building up some consistency. But by the time January 21st rolls around, it would be beneficial if you were running around 20-25 per week.
- Get a decent pair of running shoes! If your running shoes have around 300-500 miles on them, then it’s time they be retired. When you go to get another pair, be sure that the shoe fits you and not the other way around. Any new pair of shoes are going to feel great when you first try them on, but do they provide the right amount of comfort and support you and your feet need? Most reputable running stores have very knowledgeable salespeople who are trained in how to properly fit customers. Another suggestion is to by two pairs so that you can rotate them throughout the winter months. Plus, they will last longer than just running in one pair.