Have you ever noticed a car with a bumper sticker that says 26.2? That means the super motivated, athletic occupant of said car has accomplished the feat of running a full marathon, which is 26.2 miles long! According to the Guardian, in 2011, more than half a million Americans had completed at least one marathon. People from all walks of life run marathons. You don’t have to be some Iron Man in training to compete in a marathon. Anyone, who is in reasonable health can complete a marathon with the right training. This guide contains all the necessary tips and tricks to make your first marathon a successful one.

Preparing For Training

Running 26.2 miles in one day is not something that is normal, so it is going to take time to work up to that level. Running a marathon needs to be a long term goal. You need to build the body up to marathon fitness gradually. Many experts recommend making running 20+ miles a week part of your regular fitness routine up to a year before you begin marathon specific training. Training for the marathon should only begin within 4-6 months of the marathon.

How To Train

Working on speed is optional, and there are a variety of marathon training programs for people of all fitness levels. It is imperative that you find a training regimen that matches your fitness level and works with your body. You can’t go from never exercising at all to running 30 miles a week overnight. It would be extremely unhealthy and dangerous to do so.

All training regimens have the common goal of building up the number of miles a person can run each week and in one day. Increase base miles, or the number of miles you run per week, gradually. In most cases, weekly base miles should only increase by one per week. A person who is comfortable running 10 base miles per week at the beginning of their marathon training is in a great place

Help the body to recover by pulling back after you make a significant increase in weekly or daily miles. For example, if you started off at 10 weekly base miles, it is safe to add one a week for the next three weeks, when you reach 13 weekly base miles, go back to 10 to give your body the chance to recover.

On at least two occasions before the actual race, it should be a goal to run 20 consecutive miles. Once this feat is accomplished, take several days to recover. In addition to taking reasonable recovery periods throughout your training, the two weeks just prior to the race should be your lightest training period. By that time, muscle memory will have already been built up. You’re merely keeping your body primed and ready to perform rather than teaching it something new at that point.

Train The Same Way You Will Run

Comfort is key! If at all possible, train in the same place the marathon will occur. At the very least, be familiar with how the marathon’s location looks. If you live far away from the event, use satellite maps to get a feel for the course.

Beginners are very unlikely to sprint through their first marathon, so make your training consist of more endurance building than speed training. Wear the same type of clothes and the same style of shoes that you plan to wear on race day while you train.

Find a water bottle or pack that can be secured in around the body with a belt. This is key to getting necessary hydration without breaking your stride by trying to hold a bottle during the race. Handsfree water packs, such as those were you can press a button and deliver water to your mouth, are optimal because you won’t have to stop running to hydrate yourself. Nevertheless, this is a strange way of drinking water so you need to be used to whatever hydration method you choose prior to race day.

Try different belts, shoes, and athletic wear. Once you find a comfortable fit, stick with it, and wear those types of clothes on the day of the marathon.

Eat Right

Training for and completing a marathon takes a lot out of the body. You’re going to need to put back what you take out without weighing the body down, and it’s important to have enough fuel from food to start with. Running will make you ill if you haven’t had proper nutrition and hydration beforehand.

Drinking large quantities of water must become your lifestyle when preparing for a marathon. The body needs reserves of water, and training will constantly deplete those reserves. Complex carbs are metabolized slowly, so they provide the body with a source of slow-burning energy to keep you going while running. Whole grains, natural oats, quinoa, and brown rice are all great complex carbs. Whole grain pasta is a perfect dinner for the day before a marathon.

Running takes a toll on the muscles and burns fat. Replenish the muscles by eating nutritious sources of protein like salmon, peanut butter and beans. The fat that has been burned should be restored with healthy fats rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. Avocados are a great source of healthy fats. Eating the proper level of fat is very important because, like carbs, healthy fats are an efficient source of energy for the body.

Prepare Your Mind

A marathon involves running 26.2 miles on one day. Say that three times and let it sink in! Most people are capable of running a marathon with proper training, but no one should underestimate the beast that running that many miles can be. Running a marathon is peak performance for most people. All training should culminate in building enough endurance for the big day. Although it is rewarding, there is nothing easy about any part of the process, and you should not expect to be able to run 26.2 miles at once before the day of the marathon. Attempting to do so could leave the body to weak to perform on the big day.

A marathon is not a race. It’s nice to finish within the same time frame as other runners, but the real feat of completing a marathon is endurance. Speed should not be the goal when running your first marathon. A marathon will take a toll on the body. To be able to perform on the big day, one has to dutifully train, build themselves up, and take care to avoid injury. Go accomplish your goals!