6 Things To Do Before You Run A Marathon & Crush Your Goals, According To An Expert
So, you're running your first marathon. First of all, congrats, girl. This is a big deal, and you're going to have a ton of fun along the way. Since you might be a bit of a newbie to long-distance running, though, there are a few things you should do before you run a marathon to make sure your body stays happy, healthy, and injury-free leading up to the big day.
For one thing, when you start training, you might feel kind of defeated at first because a mere three miles could feel low-key impossible to get through. Don't freak out, though. You'll be amazed at how quickly your body adjusts with commitment and consistency, as long as you start slow and steady. "Give yourself enough time before the marathon to get your body used to the cardio," Dr. Robert Segal, a cardiologist and co-founder of LabFinder.com, tells Elite Daily over email. "Some beginners like to adopt the run/walk method [which means that,] based on your experience level, you run for a certain amount of time and then have built-in periods of walking."
Segal explains that taking these breaks will make your training a little less grueling, and perhaps more importantly, it'll help to reduce the risk of injury. Here are six other tips the cardiologist says are of the utmost importance to keep in mind before you go out there and crush your first marathon.
Hydrating Properly Is So Important
According to Segal, the key to feeling good during your running sessions is always proper hydration. "Stay hydrated before, during, and after your training to avoid fainting and causing injuries from falling," the cardiologist tells Elite Daily.
It’s normal to sweat and lose water while you run, Segal explains, but losing too much water may cause your blood pressure to drop. "Having your blood pressure too low may induce dizziness or even fainting," he says. "Definitely something to keep an eye on, especially if you are training by yourself."
Bottom line: Don't stay thirsty, my friends.
Listen To Your Body, Always
How can you prevent injuries during training? Listening to your body is a great start, says Segal. And stretching — a whole lot of stretching. "Some prefer to stretch before a run, some prefer to stretch after; the important notion is to stretch while breathing deeply to provide your muscles with the oxygen they need," he explains.
Plus, Segal says that taking breaks and walking for a bit while training is completely acceptable. You’ll get to where you need to be by the time the race comes as long as you keep improving, even just a little, every day.
Remember To Rest Up Between Training Sessions
Yeah, you're training for a marathon and running is #life — but so is rest, rest, rest. But how many rest days should you take exactly? Segal tells me he advises his own patients to take a day of rest every two days of high-interval training.
"Resting gives your body the time to adapt to the stress of exercise, and some say that’s when the real training takes place," he tells Elite Daily. "Your body will thank you for allowing it to replenish its energy stores and have the chance to repair its damaged tissues."
Know When To Push Past Soreness
Marathon-training soreness is real, and while you may find yourself feeling achey AF when you first start, don’t let that keep you from reaching your goals — according to Segal, it’s totally normal.
To soothe the sore feels, though, the doctor recommends doing some simple dynamic stretching to get ready for your run. "Dynamic stretching helps loosen your muscles and tendons to warm up your body and increase range of motion," he says. "Some basic examples of this are squat thrusts, running in place, jumping jacks, and lunges."
Don't Forget To Fuel Up With Nourishing Food
Food. Is. Life — especially when you're training for a marathon. During your training process, Segal recommends eating a small amount of food — think nutrient-packed smoothies or pretzels with hummus — within 15 minutes of finishing your run, every single time you finish training. "It helps the body re-synthesize muscle glycogen," he explains, which simply means it'll help your body recover more quickly.
The night before your race, though? Carbs, carbs, carbs, baby. "Carbs will provide your body with enough fuel to burn during your race," the cardiologist says. "The best route would be to start carb-loading a few days before the race so you have glycogen from the carbs stored up in your body ready to burn."
Another nifty little nutrition tip is to avoid consuming too much fat in conjunction with your carbs, according to Segal. "Once your body burns through carbs, your body will start to burn fat for energy, which leads to some runners hitting a 'wall,'" he explains. "So for example, if you eat pasta, throw in some tomato sauce, but skip the oils and cheese." You can eat all the cheese after your race, though — don't worry, fam.
Additionally, Segal recommends avoiding any foods before your marathon that are particularly high in fiber, as that can upset your stomach while your body's trying to process it during your run. "Bananas are great; so are other fruits like apples and pears, as long as you peel the skin off," he says.
If all of this information seems a bit overwhelming, remember to take it slow: Practice carb-loading during your training before one of your long runs, as "this will help you realize what does and doesn’t work in terms of how much energy you have to burn," according to the doctor.
Of course, you can always tweak this during your training sessions to make sure you're setting yourself up for success on the day of your marathon.
Above All, Have Fun
Of course running a marathon is serious business, and you should treat it as such during your training sessions to ensure you're taking care of your body properly and staying safe. But, as Segal points out, it's just as important to have fun throughout the process, too.
"Pick a fun pair of training shoes, create a custom playlist of music that gets you excited when you are running, make friends at the gym or wherever you run," he says. "Most importantly, once you accomplish your goal, keep going and set a new one. Staying fit is good for your heart, good for your health, and good for your mind."