Learning from your last marathon run is an ongoing process as each marathon is different, run under different conditions at different times of the year, at different locations and at different altitudes. Still, with each completed marathon you come away having learnt something about yourself.
A marathon is a test of your personal endurance, strength and will and a testament to your own stamina. There is no better feeling in the world than crossing that finish line and saying to yourself, “I did it!”
Adjusting your training
One thing you will definitely learn is how to pace yourself and where your strengths and weaknesses lie. You may discover that you battled on uphill sections and so will focus on doing more uphill training before you attempt your next marathon. Adversely, you might find that the down hills were very tough and that you need to build your stamina in this area. You may find that you want to sign up for a longer marathon next time around or that this last marathon run was simply too much for you.
Here you must decide to either extend your training time to build up your stamina to be able to do better next time or you can choose to do a half marathon next time and build your strength and stamina more slowly. It all depends on your individual goals and what you really want to achieve in the end. One of the most important things to look at is your diet. Aside from the typical marathon “carbo-load” diet before a big marathon, you also need to focus on feeding the body with proper nutrition during the training process.
Eating & drinking
Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, plenty of fish and chicken and stay away from saturated fats and low quality carbohydrates. Frozen vegetables which have been cooked before frozen have lost a lot of their nutritional value, so choose them carefully. Alcohol should only be consumed in moderate amounts and should be steered clear of if at all possible. Focus on complex carbohydrates like the ones found in grains and pasta’s. Include plenty of nuts in your diet and if you are going to drink fruit juice, make sure it is freshly squeezed.
You are reminded to drink 8 glasses of water a day
Speaking of liquid refreshment, you are reminded to drink 8 glasses of water a day. This may sound difficult or even tedious, particularly if you have a very busy schedule, yet water is very important to the proper functioning of the entire body. Proper hydration and replacing lost fluids while running will help you to run faster and more efficiently. Another important part of the runner’s diet is supplementation with vitamins.
There are so many products available on the market today that the runner is spoilt for choice. Make sure to take supplements that include Vitamins E, C and B as well as Calcium for strong bones and teeth. These vitamins assist in fighting anti-oxidants, in nourishing the skin, the organs and the brain are vital for proper body function. Fish oils are essential in assisting with oxygen uptake in the blood and assist with healthy joint function, essential to any runner.
How are your feet doing?
If you have ever walked a mile in uncomfortable shoes, you can imagine the discomfort in running a marathon in ill-fitting trainers. Footwear is a very important part of the runner’s ensemble and so every marathon runner must make sure to invest money in a good quality pair of running shoes that cushion the feet and provide adequate support while running. Now that you have run a long distance, you can most definitely tell whether your feet hurt and if you need to get different running shoes or not.
Vary your training & keep a record
Learning from your last marathon run means varying your training regime. The body needs to be faced with training variables to improve all-round fitness and stamina. Running the same route and doing the same exercises will not challenge you physically beyond a certain limit. The idea is to vary your training routine so that you keep your body, figuratively speaking, on its toes. Alternate weight training with cardiovascular exercises in order to build up endurance, which is required for marathon run.
Record you training, it’s the best way to look back on your progress
Keep a record of your daily training sessions. This is the best way to look back on your progress and to ascertain what is working for you and what you might want to change or improve upon. You should begin training for a marathon no less than 18 weeks beforehand, perhaps longer if you are a beginner runner. You should increase the distance you run by 10 – 15% each week and alternate your running days with an easy day/hard day approach. Avoid doing more than 20 miles in any one day’s training as you don’t want to burn yourself out or risk injuries while training. (More about starting a running log)
Get plenty of uninterrupted sleep during your training period and in the days leading up to your marathon run. The last thing you want to do is wake up on the morning of an important marathon to find that you feel over-tired and listless. Ensure a minimum of 8 hours a night. Avoid late nights and then attempting to catch up on sleep by sleeping late during the day. This has an adverse effect on your Circadian rhythms, so try to keep to a regular routine.
After the marathon
You will find that learning from your last marathon run will come more easily with each marathon completed. As you are running the route you will find yourself thinking of ways to improve your performance next time around. Once you have completed your marathon run you should cool down by taking a minimum 15 minute walk. Replace your electrolytes with a sports drink and be sure to eat some fruit, like bananas or apples.
You can take a warm bath to relax your muscles, but make sure the water is not too hot and be sure to take some Ibuprofen or similar if you have any sore muscles. Enjoy a dinner of lean steak or chicken and plenty of carbohydrates to replenish your system. One of the things you’ll be learning from your last marathon run is that you should take at least a weeks break from running. The build up of lactic acid in the muscles will cause some pain, so when you resume running do so in short bursts alternating running and walking to ease back into your running routine.
Have you ever run a Marathon? Please share your experience below.