How to run your first marathon
by jeff galoway

There are a lot of things to keep in mind when preparing for your first marathon—and I’m not talking about the months of training you already have planned and in some cases, finished. I’m talking about the race itself—the actual day (and week) in which you are going to run those 42.195KM. Once you have followed through with your training, how do you make sure all of the other factors are in order?

Training Program

The objective is to build your endurance so that on race day you can survive the 26.2 miles of the marathon.

Begin by increasing your long run by only one mile each week. Continue to build this way until your long run is up to 20KM at a slow and even pace. This pace should be one-and-a-half to two minutes a mile slower than your 10K race pace. Finish feeling that even though you're tired, you could have gone further if you had to.

If the foundation of your program is to develop a long run, what should you do during the rest of the week? The best answer to this question is to run only as much as leaves you comfortable.

The main goal is to recover completely so that you are eager to begin the next long run. It is quite adequate to run only three or four days a week. None of your mid-week runs need exceed five miles.

During this first phase of marathon training, if your weekly mileage starts in the range of 20 to 30 KM, and stays in this range as you push the long run up to 20KM, that will do fine.

If it grows to about 50KM a week that will be good too, but it should not exceed this figure during the early growth period. Too much or too fast will lead to an injury.

     If you have trained only for 10K's you may not have worried about keeping hydrated during your runs. When you're marathon training you must drink regularly, especially since fall marathons involve training through the heat and, in many areas, humidity of summer
During your marathon there will be water at about 3KM intervals. Learn to drink at least as frequently during training.

                  It is important to eat plenty of complex carbohydrates during marathon training. Your endurance is only as good as your glycogen supply.

    During the adaptation to distance training your body learns to supplement glycogen by burning fats. In spite of this the body can't function on fats alone, and shortly before your glycogen is used up you'll become exhausted.

    The only way to avoid this is to load your muscles with glycogen throughout your training. This means eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain cereals.

    You can also reduce your rate of glycogen use by slowing your pace. You see, fats are a higher-calorie fuel than glycogen, nine calories per gram compared to four. This means it takes more oxygen to burn fats compared with carbohydrates.

     The way to make sure you maximize your oxygen intake is to slow down. If you run too fast you don't have time to breathe enough oxygen to use a high proportion of fats, so your body has to draw on more glycogen to compensate.

For your first marathon train at a slow pace. This will pay handsome dividends in the last few miles of the long runs.

The Afternoon Before

               Don't run the day before the race. You won't lose any conditioning if you take two days off from running leading up to the race. If the race has an expo or other festivities, walk around, but don't walk for more than two hours. Some races require you to pick up your race number and your computer chip at the expo the day before. Other races allow you to pick up your materials on race day. Check out the information materials or the event website for instructions.

The Carbo-Loading Dinne
             Some marathons have a dinner the night before. At the dinner you can talk with runners at your table and enjoy the evening. Don't eat much, however. Many runners mistakenly assume that they must eat a lot the night before. This is actually counterproductive. It takes at least 36 hours for most of the food you eat to be processed and useable in a race. But eating too much, or eating the wrong foods for you, can be a real problem. A lot of food bouncing up and down in your gut when you race is stressful. Carbohydrate "loading" the night before can lead to carbohydrate "unloading" on the course itself. The evening before your long training run is a good time to practice your eating plan, then replicate the successful routine for the race.

   The day before the race, drink when you are thirsty. If you haven't had a drink of water or sports drink in a couple of hours, drink half a cup to a cup (four to eight ounces) each hour. Don't drink a lot of fluid the morning of the race. This can lead to bathroom breaks during the marathon. Many races have portable toilets around the course, but some don't. A common practice is to drink six to 10 ounces of fluid about two hours before the race. Usually this is out of the system before the start. Practice your drinking routine before and during long runs, and use the pattern that works best for you.

The Night Before
      Eating is optional after 6 p.m. If you are hungry, have a light snack you have tested before that has not caused problems. Less is better, but don't go to bed hungry. It's a good idea to have eight ounces of a good electrolyte beverage about two hours before you go to bed the night before your marathon.

Alcohol consumption is generally not recommended the day or night before a race. The effects of this depressant carry over to the next morning. Some runners have no trouble having one glass of wine or beer, while others are better off with none. If you decide to have a drink, I suggest that you make it one portion.

Pack your bag and lay out your clothes the night before so you don't have to think much on race morning.

  • Your watch, 
  • Shoes
  • Socks
  • Shorts
  • Top
  • Race Bib
  • Water, pre-race beverages
  • Food (optional)
  • Bandages, Petrolium jelly and any other first-aid items you may need
  • cash for transpo and for emergency
  • Race chip attached according to the race instructions
  • A few jokes or stories to provide laughs or entertainment before the start
  • A copy of the race-day checklist

      You may sleep well, or you may not. Don't worry about it if you don't sleep at all. Many runners I work with don't sleep at all the night before and have the best race of their lives. Of course, don't try to go sleepless...but if it happens, it's not usually a problem.

Race-Day Checklist
 this list and pack it in your race bag so you have a plan you can carry out in a methodical way. "Don't try anything new the day of your race"--except for health or safety reasons. Walk breaks are the only first-time item I have heard people successfully use in a race. Stick with your plan.

Start your warm-up about 30 minutes before the start.
   If possible, just walk backwards on the course for about a half-mile and turn around. This will give you a preview of the most important part of your race: the finish. Laugh and joke as you stand around waiting for the start. On your first marathon, I recommend using the first mile to complete your warm-up. During this first mile:

  • Walk for two or three minutes
  • Start your watch for the ratio of running and walking that you are using
  • During the first few running rotations, run more slowly than usual
After the Start
  • Remember that you can control how you feel during and afterward by conservative pacing and walks. Whatever energy you save in the first half will be available to you during the last five miles.
  • Stick with the run-walk-run ™ ratio that has worked for you--take every walk break, especially the first one. It is always better to walk more in the beginning.
  • If it is warm, slow down and walk more (30 sec/mile slower for every five degrees above 60 degrees Fahrenheit).
  • Don't let yourself be pulled out too fast on the running portions.
  • As people who don't take walk breaks pass you, tell yourself that you will catch them later. You will.
  • If anyone interprets your walking as weakness, say: "This is my proven strategy for a strong finish."
  • Talk with folks along the way, enjoy the course, smile often.
  • On warm days, pour water over your head at the water stops.
At the Finish
  • Cross the finish line in the upright position with a smile on your face
  • Keep walking for at least half a mile after the race
  • Drink about four to eight ounces of fluid
  • Within 30 minutes of the finish, have a snack that is 80 percent carbohydrate and 20 percent protein
  • If you can soak your legs in cool water during the first two hours after the race, do so for 10 to 20 minutes
  • Walk for 20 to 30 minutes later in the day
The Next Day
  • Walk for 30 to 60 minutes, very easy. This can be done at one time, or in installments
  • Keep drinking about four to six ounces of water or sports drink an hour
  • Wait at least a week before you either schedule your next race or vow to never run another one again.

joel malecdan
6/3/2013 09:53:23

halu sir, i joined 32k trailrun & 42k roadrun,i suffered cramps of my two legs during d run, can u give me an advise to prevent the cramps?

6/7/2013 03:44:29

good pm sir,..about sa cramps..i think kulang ka sa potassium
banana is a good source of potassium that you need..as you see diba sa ibang road run event's me nkalatag na banana at the water station..i will really help a lot.

try mo din to read about my post about banana


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