Are you training for a marathon?
Running the gruelling 42.195 kilometre distance isn’t for the faint-hearted and you need to be well-prepared to tackle one of the ultimate endurance tests.
With lots of upcoming races in the UAE – including the Standard Chartered Dubai Marathon taking place on January 20 2017 – it is time to make sure you are ready to run!
And to help you get the most out of your running experience – here’s our top 12 tips for marathon runners:
1. Try to follow a structured training plan. The two key sessions per week should be your long run and a shorter, faster-paced run or an interval session.
2. Don’t try to ‘race’ your longer runs. Keep them controlled and run within your capabilities. That way you will build up your endurance steadily as you progress rather than burning out too soon in the run and ending up walking the last few km’s.
3. If you feel too tired to run on a training day, just walk, cycle or swim. Any activity is better than nothing.
4. Don’t forget to stretch after each training session or run. Recover gently and don’t force your muscles into over-stretching. The key groups to work are your hamstrings, quadriceps, calves and gluteals – as well as your back, hips and shoulders.
5. Schedule a regular massage session into your training plan. This helps to prevent injury and clear any lactic acid from the muscles. Just remember not to have your massage too close to race day otherwise your legs will feel tired and heavy.
6. Work on core strength. Running requires a strong core as you need to keep good upright form throughout the race. As you fatigue, the tendency is to “slouch” which leads to fatigue and compromises breathing patterns.
7. When running, try to “run relaxed”. Cup your hands loosely and don’t clench fists. Relax your shoulders. A common mistake for novice runners is to hold tension on their body as they get tired but this will further deplete your energy and can cause neck and shoulder tightness.
8. Stay well hydrated – before, during and after your runs, especially longer runs.
9. Follow a sensible, balanced diet. Unless you are an experienced, competitive athlete with a specific goal target, then you need not stress too much about a specific diet. Just try to avoid junk foods and fried foods and focus instead on fresh ingredients. Complex carbs, protein and good fats are essential together with plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.
10. After a long run, eat a snack of easily digested carbohydrates to help re-fuel muscles quickly. Fruit, yogurt, bagel with honey are all good and easy to access.
11. Use your training weeks to get familiar with what foods you digest easily before a run, then stick to these. NEVER try any new food or drinks on race day, despite what others may advise or tell you.
12. Also, NEVER wear new clothing, socks or shoes on race day. This can be a disaster. Wear lightweight, breathable clothing that has been washed a few times and shoes that are ‘broken in’. This avoids chaffing and bad blisters on race day. Many athletes forget that socks can be a major cause of blisters. Look for lightweight running socks and avoid the heavier cotton varieties that hold moisture.