How do I find a marathon training program?

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Answered by: Kate, An Expert in the Healthy Living 101 Category
Like anything else, running, and completing, a marathon can be achieved through hard work and dedication. All it takes is a little training. Regardless of if you are a novice runner or a person who's been hitting the pavement since before you can remember, a good training regimen can make the difference between a great experience and swearing off the road for the rest of your life. Marathon training programs are like running shoes, despite the flashy design or cushioned support, not all programs work for all people.

Before you go out to buy your new pair of running shoes or choose a destination marathon simply for the beach time it will allow you post-26.2, find your training program - or make your own. This is extremely important in that it's imperative that you give yourself enough time to train for the marathon; typical marathon training programs last between 16-20 weeks (an average of four months).

As marathons are becoming more popular, marathon training programs are becoming more accessible and affordable online, ranging from free to more than $200 with training support groups and nutritional information included. Websites like offer training programs for everyone from novice to advanced runners, complete with descriptions of how to tackle each work-out. Magazines like "Runner's World" have special marathon training editions, as well as links on its website to guide runners through the hills and valleys of the training experience. Most major cities even have their own runner's associations that cater to all price ranges and pace groups. Last but not least, certain non-profit organizations sponsor and train runners who raise a certain amount of money for their charity.

An important thing to keep in mind while finding, or designing, your marathon training program is making sure it works for you and your life. If you can only run three days a week, you might want to give yourself more months to train so you don't injure yourself by increasing mileage too quickly. (Typical mileage increases no more than 10-percent each week, with a peak of miles 6-8 weeks before the big day, followed by a tapering off of weekly mileage.) If you are looking to set your personal best, or record time (PR) then you might want to include more speed workouts or interval training than someone who is content on finishing in any amount of time. Whatever you do, always listen to your body, and make sure you run at least one long run of 20 miles before the race day.

Hydration is important for any amount of miles, but especially during excessive heat or cold, so make sure to have access to water during your runs. Proper caloric intake is also important, both before, after, and during runs - more information can be found for meal and snack ideas on the websites and in the magazines listed above. Sleep is another factor worth noting, in that your body recovers from your long runs during REM.

In addition to running, it is a good idea to supplement other workouts and strength training into your marathon training program. Core-focused workouts like yoga or something involving a bosu-ball are great additions to running. Swimming and cycling are also great additions in that they work different muscles than running.

The marathon day itself will come before you know it, but given the fact that you trained for months prior, you won't have anything to worry about aside from how to pose for the picture when you zoom across the finish line.

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