Running a marathon? Make sure you do this.

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When you sign up for a marathon, properly train for it.  This sounds pretty straight-forward, but not training is both tempting and common.  Because training is hard.  It’s grueling and time-consuming and takes you away from your other commitments.   Some mornings I talk myself around in circles for a good 20 minutes or so before I even get out of bed for my run.  And once I do, I shuffle around the house for another good 20 minutes, sighing, grumbling, ready to willingly accept any excuse that seems feasible for skipping.  It’s snowing/raining/dark/windy.  I’m sore/exhausted/too busy.  I’ll add the miles to tomorrow’s run.  One little run won’t make a difference.

But consistently skipping out on logging the miles needed to be physically (and mentally) ready for your race could set you and your body up for a cruel, rude awakening on the big day.  More importantly, it increases your chances of  getting caught in a vicious injury cycle that is tough to break out of.

If the whole thing seems daunting, don’t worry.  Here are some simple guidelines:

1. If you have the time and desire to train, it’s a matter of scheduling it into your calendar.  And then sticking to that schedule.  Can you miss an occasional shorter run and still be okay?  Yes.  But definitely don’t miss the long runs!

2.  Make sure the running plan/schedule works for you and your fitness level.  Hal Higdon has training plans for various types of runners.

  1. Don’t drastically increase your mileage from one week to the next as a result of trying to “make up” missed runs.

4.  Add strength training, stretching and yoga.  It will make you a better runner and further decrease your risk of injury.

5.  If this isn’t your first rodeo, try doing some speed training one or two days per week.  Track running not your thing?  No worries–Try some fartleks or pick up the pace for a minute or two, then take a few minutes to recover and repeat.

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