Running a marathon is never easy, but it can be extremely rewarding. It’s a great way to stay healthy, test your physical and mental limits, and compete with other committed runners. Following these guidelines will make your marathon run a more successful and enjoyable experience.
1. Start preparing for your marathon several months in advance. Successfully running 26 miles requires consistent and regular training, even if you are already in great shape. Start small and gradually increase your running distance as your body gets used to running farther every day.
2. Go on one longer run every week. Running several miles every day helps to build your strength and endurance, and going on one substantially longer run once a week helps you push yourself and get closer to the 26 mile goal.
3. Train your body. Running every day for several months is fantastic exercise, and according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, it helps strengthen muscles, train your heart and lungs, and build up your endurance – or, for many servicemen and women, maintain it.
4. Train your mind. The mental skills required to run a marathon successfully are also important, and improve over time. Regular practice can help increase your discipline and determination, which makes you more likely to succeed in the marathon – and improves your day-to-day life as well.
5. Eat well. According to Healthfinder.gov, marathon runners need to consume high amounts of carbohydrates to build up their energy reserves before a run, and consume lean protein to build up strength and muscle mass.
6. Stay hydrated. Drinking water is always important, especially for marathon runners. Dehydration can sink a marathon attempt. During a long race like a marathon, it is extremely important to hydrate before the race, during the race, and after the race.
7. Know your own limits. Pushing yourself very hard can feel natural, but be mindful of the signs your body gives you. Stick to your training schedule and don’t push beyond it. That said, recent studies have suggested that marathons are just as healthy for baby boomers as for younger generations.
8. Enjoy the other health benefits. Consistent exercise helps prevent many chronic diseases, including cancer, stroke, and heart disease, according to the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition. And healthfinder.gov states that regular exercise helps relieve stress, increase self-esteem, improve your sleep hygiene, and raise energy levels.
9. Study the history of the marathon. The marathon and its distance – not just twenty six miles, but twenty six miles and 385 yards – has a long history that may resonate with Army men and women. It’s an inspiring story of sacrifice in the face of great odds, and a soldier’s bravery under exceptional circumstances.
10. Rest well for the big race, knowing that you are prepared. Push yourself, stay hydrated, keep your carb levels high and your spirits up, and you can accomplish this great athletic feat.
Don’t forget, you aren’t running the marathon alone. Many resources exist to support marathon runners, including friends, Family and MWR. U.S. Army MWR’s extensive Sports and Fitness programs provide support toward reaching your goal – even if it is 26.2 miles away.