Training to run a marathon? Get race ready with these techniques
Running can be a great way to keep yourself in peak physical condition, and many seasoned and novice runners prefer the challenge of half and full marathons. I had always avoided running, but have since competed in several half marathons and enjoy them after learning proper training techniques.
Dr. Michael P. Shea, an orthopedic surgeon specializing in foot and ankle care with highly rated OrthoIndy in Indianapolis, competed in his first half marathon four years ago. Shea says knowing how you’re progressing in your training is important for the novice runner. “Keep a log,” he says. “It should include mileage, intensity and surface [treadmill versus road versus track]. Make note of how you felt during the run and the day after your run. This will help in knowing how quickly or slowly to increase your mileage.”
Shea adds you should also track when you experience physical pain when running on a scale of one to 10, with 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever felt. He recommends to stop running if the pain you’re experiencing is more than a rating of two.
Stretching will help you avoid most problems while training. “It’s best to warm up, generally just walking and increasing to jogging for about 5 to 10 minutes, then do your stretching,” Shea says. “Be sure to include stretches for your shoulders, back, hips, knees and ankles.” Once properly stretched, you can proceed to your run. On days when you’re too sore, try cross training. I’ve found that strengthening the hips, back, knees, hamstrings and glutes can result in faster runs.
Related: A guide to fitness training
In preparation for my first mini-marathon, I visited BlueMile, a running and walking specialty store with locations in Broad Ripple, Carmel, Fishers and Greenwood, Indiana. Owner Ashley Johnson, a former professional runner, helped properly fit me for shoes. Johnson helped me to understand that my gait played a major role in selecting the proper shoe, and he recently gave me some good advice.
“It’s not so much about total miles,” Johnson says. “Start out with running about three times per week, and increase by no more than 10 to 15 percent per week to stay healthy and feel good. If you did 3 miles for your long run last week, increase to about 3.5 the following week, and then another 10 to 15 percent the week after that. Every three weeks, back down and just do a couple of miles.”
Many people don’t realize rest is just as important — that’s the time your body builds back stronger. Johnson also says that for either a half or a full marathon, you shouldn’t run the full distance before the race. “Exercise science has proven that as long as you rest properly for the two to three weeks before the race, you only need to run about 75 percent of the full race distance,” he adds.
Johnson contends that moderation is the key to success. “You should finish just about every run feeling exhilarated. Yes, you’re going to have some tough days, but your toughest day, by far, should be race day. Save the big effort for the big race, and moderately increase your training as you build up to it.”
Now go out there and put some miles in. See you at the finish line!