Five Things to Consider Before Training For a Half or Full Marathon

As running participation numbers increase, more people want to progress their running.  While you might start out with a 5km parkrun or 10km fun run, it isn’t long before many runners look towards longer distances. Training for your first half or full marathon is a huge undertaking and shouldn’t be taken lightly. Preparing well will help you make it to the starting line uninjured, as well as have an enjoyable experience come race day. While there is a big difference between 21km and 42km, the tips below will help with training for either distance.

Start with a strong base

Typically a training program for a first 21/42 lasts between 10-16 weeks. However, this program shouldn’t be considered in isolation. Before starting a training program you should aim to have a good block of running under your belt. Aim for 4-8 weeks of consistent running prior to entering your more structured training block. This should be on top of a longer history (think years not weeks) of regular running. This will give you a strong launch pad to move into a safe and enjoyable training program.

Start your training injury free

Unfortunately injuries are all too common for runners and may happen while training for a big event. But you can lower your risk of injury by managing any niggles you have before starting a training program. See a physiotherapist, rest, stretch, do what you need to do to get in the best condition possible. By starting your program healthy and injury free, you will set yourself up for success on race day.

Include strength training

Evidence highlighting the benefits of strength training for runners is growing all the time. Strength training can make running easier, improve running speed and reduce the risk of injury. By improving your strength you can improve your ability to tolerate the intensity associated with a marathon training program. With increased training kilometres, your soft tissues (muscles and tendons) are under increased strain and fatigue. Strength training can help prepare you for this increased load.

Consider the time commitment involved

Training for a marathon requires a substantial time commitment to get through happy and healthy. Consider seriously whether you have the time and energy available to dedicate to training. A review of your goals may be required if you can’t dedicate the required time. Being time poor can result in inconsistent training, which will have a substantial impact on your success. Before starting a program work out a ‘training budget’, the time you can dedicate to training each week, and aim to stick to it.

Review and be clear about your expectations

What do you want to get out of your marathon experience? Do you want to compete or complete? Finish with a smile, or crawl across the finish line? There are no wrong answers. What’s important is to be clear about what it is you hope to get out of your marathon experience. Going into a training block with strong, clear expectations will help guide your training.

There are so many factors that go into successful half or full marathon training. These are a few of the important factors that should be considered before starting. Remember, we at Physiotas are here to help with what you need – be that injury management, strength training or designing your specific training program.

About the Author:

Ben Brockman is an Exercise Physiologist at our Best Street Clinic.