I’ve seen plenty of marathon training programs around. I’ve also seen plenty of information on nutrition, building up your fitness, what to wear, why your feet hurt etc. What I haven’t seen is a list of the things that runners forget to tell you – probably because they’ve become so used to them – or how to avoid them!
You can’t run every day
If you’re a new runner, it takes some time for your muscles and bones to get used to the impact of running. It’s all very well for seasoned athletes to run long distances every day, but unless you’re lucky, it’s an easy path to injury.
I screwed this up completely, and ended up with shin splints before I even knew what shin splints were. While I’m building up my strength, I stick to the elliptical and bike on my in between days. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned in marathon training (at least for a newbie!).
Your butt hurts. A lot.
I was totally clueless when I started, so I’m not assuming you’re as shocked as I am by this one. But wow! Not only was I getting ordinary running discomfort, I didn’t really know how to activate my glutes, and then I didn’t think abut stretching them. In fact, I didn’t think about it at all.
It pays to wash your clothes
Sound odd? In an ideal world, everyone would have clean clothes all the time, but sometimes, you’ve been behind on your washing, or can’t find your shorts. That’s ok, but don’t be surprised if you get some nice red bumps on your derriere.
That rash comes from skin, sweat and those sweaty leggings you wore yesterday. When training for a marathon, you run long distances. The longer you spend in those clothes, the worse it gets. I can’t tell you how freaked out I was the first time it happened to me!
Invest in good socks
I wish someone had told me this earlier. I’ve always been a 10 for 10 pack girl. Unfortunately, wearing crappy socks leads to blisters. And blisters are unfun.
It’s ok to stop
This is an interesting one. First of all, I mean what I say, it is ok to stop and walk for awhile if you need to.
The bigger thing for me has been realising that I need to run before I run. Go with me here. Unless I get my heart rate up and let it drop again before I start running, I can’t get much further than a kilometre or so without feeling terrible. Now I do a short sprint or some sprint drills before I begin.
The 10% rule
This is a fairly common one, but it is important. Don’t try to do too much too soon. To keep your body healthy and stay motivated, don’t increase your distance or time (your choice) by more than 10% each week.
You have to eat
This one sounds simple, but I had no idea just how important it was until I started running. You simply can’t run 10+ km if your body doesn’t have the fuel to go. It’s like trying to run a car with an empty tank. What you eat the night before is critical. I.e. don’t eat a light salad and then expect to wake up for an 18km long run.
Know where the bathroom is
This isn’t a fun one, but it is important. Sometimes, especially when you’re beginning to run long distances, your body just doesn’t behave as you think it should. That peanut butter toast might not have been the best move for your body, and before you know it, you’re in the middle of a park, desperately clutching your stomach, and there’s no toilet in sight.
If possible, check out your route before a long run.
Headbands are gold
I’ve never like headbands, but as a girl with plenty of hair, I’ve come to see them as an essential part of my running outfit. In fact, anyone can use one. They stop the sweat trickling down into your eyes (and ipod earphones). The difference is incredible.
It’s not necessarily cheap
This was another moment of total ignorance for me. I thought ‘great, I’ll throw on my runners and head outdoors’ – no gym membership, no special gear.
Great, until you think about making sure you have the right shoes, and clothes that don’t chafe. And then you realise you don’t really know how to improve, so you go to a personal trainer, and then you need better socks, and then a physio when you get injured. And then you decide to get a couple of massages. Oh, and a Garmin might be nice…
You get the picture! It’s definitely worth it, but for me at least, it certainly hasn’t been cheap!
It’s time consuming
Running 4-5 days a week, and adding in a long run that is anywhere between 1 1/2 to 3 hours long is time consuming. As is the stretching, and the recovery. After a long run, chances are you’re going to want a nap or at least a break before you do anything that involves thinking or walking
- What do you wish you’d known when you started training for a marathon?
- What tips have really helped you?
Here are more workout tips and tricks to get you started.