Compared to other sports that require strenuous training, running seems easy enough. All you need to do is put on a pair of comfortable sneakers and get going. And with regular marathons held in the city, the fascination with running is fast catching up. But running a marathon is far from easy. However, the good thing is that, with regular practice, anyone can be a marathon runner. Kanchi Maya Koju, a middle-distance runner who competed in the women’s 1500 meters at the 2014 Summer Olympics, shares some basic but important tips to get you marathon-ready.
You are what you eat. So, no matter what you are preparing for, it always begins with a slight change in your regular diet. A week prior to running a marathon, ensure you eat and sleep well. Include plenty of nutrient rich food like fruits and vegetables in your diet. Koju also suggests increasing the amount of carbohydrate intake. But do not overdo it. While practicing, drink plenty of water with some electrolytes in it. Also, try to go to bed an hour earlier than your regular bedtime. A day before running a marathon, don’t be a night owl and eat food too late in the night. Keep a time gap of two to three hours between food and sleep for better digestion.
Understand the match
Marathon is not just of one type. Its type varies according to the distance of the track field. Also, it will not be just you running and sometimes there might be over a hundred participants. So check and understand the racing instructions well and get prior training accordingly. For short marathons, a practice of short laps will be enough whereas you need to develop more strength for long ones, and this can only happen with constant practice. Koju says it will be best to manage your training session according to the type of marathon you are participating in to ensure that you get just the kind of training you require.
Don’t just run
While preparing for a marathon, don’t just focus on completing laps. Else, your legs might constantly get sore. Overdoing it may also make you hate running. So incorporate stretches and other forms of exercises like cross training or cardio in your workout/training schedule. Also, make sure you take a few seconds breaks in between the moves. This will not just prepare your legs but the entire body system for the final day.
Take extra precautions
To be able to participate in a marathon, injury and illness need to be kept at bay. So, in the week leading up to the marathon, don’t try anything new that might not agree well with your body. Resist temptations of experimenting with new techniques and exploring new hike routes unless you are very sure of it or are guided by experts. Do not ignore any kinds of injuries, regardless of its severity. Koju also advises you to use gears you are comfortable with. She says the main day isn’t a time to show off your new shoes or track pants. Stick to those items that fit you well and allow maximum flexibility.
Know your capacity
Before signing up for any match, first know and understand how much your body can endure. Being excited and too ambitious is not a good thing when it comes to physical sports. If you are a beginner, start with small marathons. Notice how your body responds to it and focus on improving your flaws. Then gradually, increase your race levels. Before every race, see if you have enough time left to adequately prepare yourself. Similarly, learn the routes well.
The right way to run
While running make it a point to always breathe from your mouth. This will let you gain enough oxygen without slowing down your speed. Also, do not start out too fast. Simply begin with a slow jog and, as your body warms up, increase your speed. Take short steps as that’s more effective than long, powerful strides. If possible, also try practicing at the same hour the marathon is scheduled to be held. This way, your body’s rhythm will be in sync with the environment of that particular hour. After completing your laps, do not just stop and rest. Keep moving slowly to allow your heart rate to come down gradually as well as allow your muscles to recover.
Preparation is key
Running is a physical sport and while it is very necessary for your body to be adequately prepared, you need to be mentally ready for it as well. Even if you have been practicing for a long time, it is very common to get nervous on the final day. So, even during the practice sessions, take a few minutes to calm yourself. Koju suggests visualizing yourself crossing the finish line and claiming the medals. This will keep you motivated to practice harder and smarter and perform better.
The division rule
This technique has worked for almost every athlete. All you need to do is break your running phase into three different stages. Just relax and enjoy the surrounding as you trot along a few minutes into the race. Then, after a few minutes (to be determined according to the type of marathon you are running), speed up a little but don’t run too fast. Finally, on the last leg of the marathon, run as fast as you can and don’t stop. However, before applying this technique in the main event, make sure you follow it during the practice sessions as well.