If grabbing your headphones and hitting the pavement for 42.2 kilometers sounds like a fun time, you might want to start preparing for a marathon. This type of race isn’t super exciting, but it’s an achievement not many can say they conquered. While there are many things people don’t know about running a marathon, you don’t have to stay in the dark anymore. Here are some of the most important facts that will help you reach the finish line.
Genetics plays a role
Just a reminder: some of your speed and endurance might be genetic. Certain people have a combination of genes that provide them with muscles filled with blood vessels perfect for efficient oxygen delivery. This allows them to endure aerobic exercises like running much easier.
Your body type can also play a role.
For instance, tall and muscular people are better at sprinting, while short light people tend to be good long-distance runners.
Planning is important
Even if you’re genetically inclined to run long distance, you still need to train in order to be able to finish a marathon.
Most people need to train at least 10 weeks for a half-marathon, provided they aren’t total beginners.
A full marathon preparation usually takes about 20 weeks. During this time, you will put your body into training mode that will boost your maximum muscle output, your stamina and your glycogen stores. So, make sure to dedicate some time to serious runs that will prepare your body for what’s to come during your marathon run.
Minimize outside variables
Many runners try to boost their aerodynamic properties by wearing proper clothing and covering their hair.
This can actually make your race times faster and allow you to feel more comfortable on race day. Also, no matter how well you take the heat, remember that your body will get extra hot as you run, so if you’re a beginner, it’s better to choose Vancouver marathon in May than Madrid marathon in April as your first race.
Get good gear
Every runner is different, but there are some rules when it comes to choosing your race kit. First (and most importantly) you need to find good long-distance running shoes. Those light shoes you have at home might be good for running a few kilometers on a treadmill, but they won’t get you through your race. You’ll need something that offers more stability and cushioning. In order to find something that suits you, run a few double-digit runs in your shoes of choice. Some sweat-wicking shorts and shirts will also come in handy and keep you dry.
Eat like a champ
What you eat before, during and after your runs is crucial for your performance. If you eat too little, you’ll run out of energy, but if you eat too much, you’ll need to hit the bathroom before you pass through the finish line. Eat something high-carb, low-fiber before a few hours before your run that will give you the energy to push through your run. In order to keep your energy up during long runs, you’ll need to refuel with carbs that will keep your blood sugar levels high. When you finish your run, make sure to eat a meal within 30 and 60 minutes post-run. This mixed carbs and protein meals will allow your body to recover, replenish your glycogen stores and repair microscopic damage to your muscles.
Drinking before, during and after your run will help you boost your performance. The truth is that even a few percent of dehydration can slow you down, so boost your hydration, especially if it’s hot outside. Some runners tend to just drink when they are thirsty, others swear in rehydration according to sweat tests (weigh yourself before and after the run to see how much water you’ve lost).
Now that you know the basics and things to expect during your training and marathon runs, you can start prepping for your first race. If all of this seems like a lot to handle right now, tackling a half-marathon is always an option.