As mentioned in one of MoC’s earlier postings, the Lagos media marathon is fast approaching. A colleague of mine, who’s part of the media team has asked for advice regarding how to get ready for the event, so I have created some useful tips below, that could be utilised by anyone to help them undergo a successful transformation from a couch potato to a one off marathon runner. Beware though, this program does not come with a ‘success overnight’ button!
Sign up! Sign up! Sign up!
Before you do anything else, you have to commit to the task at hand by signing up. This can help to motivate you and also provide you with the details of the race so you can map out a plan for the upcoming months and start a training process.
Follow a training schedule
Running a marathon is a remarkable achievement, regardless of whether you are an athlete or a first timer. It is important to note that you can’t achieve the run just by turning up on the day (you can try, but I don’t recommend it). The easiest way to ensure you are prepared for a marathon is by creating a training schedule or log which can guide your journey and details your running plans for the weeks or months prior to the race.
Increase your mileage slowly
It is important to resist the urge to do too much too soon, especially if you’re a beginner, For example, don’t go planning to run a 10k in your first attempt. First off, your body will tell you off for putting it through such a grueling program, it hadn’t been prepared for and you’ll most likely develop avoidable injuries because you wouldn’t be providing your body with enough time to acclimatise to the regime. This will most likely result in a loss of motivation, which may cause you to scrap the idea of running a marathon all together.
Your muscles and joints require a minimum of six weeks to adapt to the new stresses and loads that will be placed upon them by the training program. So rather than using the frowned upon route above, remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day, rather, it was developed constantly over a period of time. Increasing your running distance gradually will be more body friendly and will very likely encourage a steadfast level of motivation as you start to notice improvements in either your running times or running distance. The 10% rule is usually advised to help increase mileage per week. For instance, if you’re running a 10K, increase your training distance by 1000m per week (which also insinuates that you give yourself more than enough time prior to the marathon to start training).
Cross train for better fitness results
Cross training can make runners faster and stronger, so it may be worth incorporating, strength training, swimming and yoga into your program as strength, flexibility and core fitness are all important factors that can help to reduce the risk of injury and improve your endurance.
Take rest days
Training for a marathon every single day can again result in injuries. The same way we need to sleep at night to recover from our day is the same way our our bodies require rest days to recover from an intense training program. It is advised that you aim to work out or train 3-4 times a week as this will allow your body to adapt better physiologically to the program, with limited risk of injury. Last last, if after weeks of training you are worn out and tired listen to your body. Tune in and take note of what it’s communicating to you throughout the journey.
When training on your own, it can be hard to leave your cosy bed in the early hours of the morning or you may have trouble finding the will after a long work day. You can overcome this by joining a running group, which will help you hold yourself accountable and show up for training runs. When I have a self imposed project I want to work on, I sometimes become a ‘loudspeaker’ vocalising my goals to family and friends so I am less likely to back out of my plan. You can also utilise this technique and lean on family, friends and coworkers for encouragement and support throughout your journey.
Check out the course in advance
Checking out the marathon course beforehand can come in handy as it can help you see what the track will be like, so you can train appropriately for the race, which leaves little room for surprises on the day.
Nutrition and hydration are key.
Hydrate,hydrate, hydrate. This is key. In a country like Nigeria, with it’s scorching early afternoon heat you will sweat and lose water even if you just walk from your front door to your car, so keep this in mind when you are training and make sure you have water at hand to avoid dehydration. In addition, the old adage ‘you are what you eat’ stands truer than ever in this circumstance. Make sure you are putting the right stuff in your body to fuel your new regime and keep the ‘not so good stuff’ to a minimum if you know you will struggle to keep it out.
Dress for success
Never underestimate the importance of appropriate clothing. For your marathon, it is vital that you begin on the right foot, literally. Utilise a pair of comfortable running shoes that are the ideal size and won’t cause blisters during the process of your runs, ( as this will affect your run drastically). Also make sure your attire fits right (not too tight or too loose) and is weather appropriate so you don’t ‘roast’ in the sun or stay wet if it rains.