How to: prepare for a marathon

Fit & Training door thijs

Whether you’re planning on running half a marathon, a full marathon, or even a simple 5 or 10k, you need to take part in some marathon preparation! Going from running 15 minutes on the treadmill, to running for an hour to 4 hours straight, is not easy. That’s why I am here to help you. I’ve personally never run a marathon before, because I am not “old enough” yet to participate (you have to be 21), but I have already done a 21km and 10.5km marathon. One was in Brussels and the other in Rotterdam. My time for the 21km was 2 hours and 5 minutes, and I ran the 10.5km in 57 minutes. Given that I ran the 21km half-marathon 4 years before I did the 10,5km, I was glad to have improved my time (if you calculate it). I would love to do more marathons, but they are, funnily enough, quite expensive. #studentlife In 2 years (when my body will be ready for it), I'll want to take part in as many marathons as possible. It is on my bucket list to take part in a marathon on every continent.

So, how can you improve your running time and accomplish a 42km marathon successfully. There are 3 things that you need to focus on in order to prepare yourself for a marathon:

1. Training

How you train will define how you complete your marathon. You must train, in order to do well! But, don’t just start 2 weeks ahead, training for a marathon should take at least 4 months. In those 4 months, aim to run about 3 to 5 times a week. Start slow and build up your time/distance every training. Set yourself a time goal in which you want to complete your marathon and base your training on that goal.

If you are lifting and working out with heavy weights, you should definitely lose the weights and focus on working out with your body weight, and doing cardio. This is because lifting will only build muscle and make you heavier, when you reach that 29km mark and you still have 11 more to go, you will feel your weight holding you back. You want to be able to move your body’s weight comfortably and for a long time.

The consistency of your training is highly important as it will help you avoid injuries. Be consistent with your planned trainings and then your body will be able to strengthen itself over time.

2. Food

I have a new word for you: CARBO-LOADING. Carbs will become your best friend as you get closer to the marathon date. Carbs are a source of pure energy that are there for quick use. Unlike fat which is more difficult to take up, carbs are an easy source and that is what you will need throughout those 42km. Whole-weat pasta is my personal favourite as it just tastes so good. 4 days before the marathon you should definitely start upping your carb-filled meals, and avoid fatty treats. You will never find an as good excuse to just eat pasta all day, every day!

The night before the race, eat a whole plate of carbs and get a good night's rest. Then, in the morning, atleast 3 hours before the start of your race, eat about 150grams of carbs. aka breakfast = (surprise) CARBS.

3. Hydration

Source: Element5 Digital, via Unsplash

It is very important that your body is hydrated so that it doesn't break down or lose energy. So, as you are training for months and months, STAY HYDRATED. DRINK THAT WATER. I want to see you drinking at least 1.5 litres (6 cups) of water a day.

Then, when the race day finally arrives, 3 hours ahead of the start, you should drink about half a litre (2 cups) of water. The carbs and water will keep your body at its energy peak. Throughout the race you should definitely stop at every station and grab the sports drinks offered. These drinks will be like a fresh boost of energy and are easily absorbable thanks to the carbs.

There you have it, the perfect formula to ace a marathon. Marathons should be on everybody's bucket list as they are a scary, yet exciting adventure that will leave you prouder of yourself than you've ever been. Between the training, carbs, sports drinks, the marathon will have nothing on your fitness!

If you're looking for a training schedule that will help shape and strengthen your body: Attempt the Fitgirlcode Guide >