Marathon Training: 5 Ways to Prepare Yourself

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Running marathons are an excellent way to challenge yourself while sometimes supporting a worthy cause. Here are five techniques to help you prepare for the big race.

Planning
If you fail to plan your marathon training, you will be unable to reach your training goals. Be sure to make a schedule that alternates between fast and slow runs and flat and uphill runs. Also, make sure to alternate between walking, jogging and running. Weekly weight training and monthly rest periods are also important.

Stretching
Some marathon runners prefer to slowly jog in order to warm up their bodies. However, medical science clearly shows that stretching muscles before and after long distance running is the best way to prevent injuries. Daily stretching will also develop flexibility and elasticity. However, avoid simply stretching the legs. Be sure to stretch the entire body. In fact, yoga, tai chi and swimming are some of the best ways to stretch the body while also calming the mind.

Diet
For novice marathon runners, it can take between three to six months to build up the endurance and strength to run long distances. However, diet is as equally important as physical training. Be sure to eat properly and avoid junk and processed food and beverages. Keep in mind that suddenly improving a diet before a marathon may actually have harmful effects. Consider educating yourself about the appropriate dietary requirements and nutritional recommendations for marathon runners. For example, maintain a proper nutrient ratio of fewer fats and proteins, but more carbohydrates. Concentrate on eating complex carbohydrates found in breads, pastas and legumes.

Musical Conditioning
There are studies that show that jogging or running with music actually increases performance through blocking exhaustion and reducing pain. Keep in mind that intense sports, such as football and basketball, rely on loud and upbeat music to motivate and inspire athletes. Therefore, during marathon training, experiment with different music styles to find the right songs or artists that fill you with energy and passion. Repeatedly running with these motivational songs will psychologically condition your mind and body to perform at top levels during the actual marathon.

Mental Preparation
Proper mental preparation is also an important part of marathon training. While you are practicing, take advantage of the opportunity to teach yourself discipline and motivation. One of the biggest obstacles to overcome during a marathon is anxiety, which is natural when your performance is under scrutiny. Therefore, learn how to maintain focus and confidence during practice runs. In fact, learning how to talk tough and talk positive are both important mind tricks that will help you finish the marathon.

In review, planning, stretching and dieting will help with marathon training. Be sure to consume plenty of carbs the night before the marathon. Consider practicing some basic yoga stretches before each run in order to improve your overall performance.