A marathon sounds like a daunting challenge. I mean, the usual 2.4km run is already tough enough. 42km? That sounds practically absurd.
But if you don’t try, you will never know, right?
Those heading off to your first (very) long distance run soon, here are some tips to follow.
Before the marathon
- Consult your doctor
First things first, your health and safety is your number one priority. Do check with your physician if your current body is strong enough to partake in a marathon. Reduce the risk of aggravating an unknown or hidden condition.
- Training is key
Well, it’s sad to say this, but you don’t head into a marathon expecting to complete it, without adequate preparation. Unless you are Wilson Kipsang or Paula Radcliff. Or maybe Usian Bolt. But you get my point. A marathon is a demanding physical activity and requires some prior dedication. Be prepared to invest at least 6-12 weeks of training.
- Work out a suitable training program
Here’s how you train. Runner’s World suggests running three to four days a week. One major track, two shorter ones, and one simple cardio exercise. Alternate a difficult run with an easier one. Also look to slowly increase your distance week-by-week. Don’t forget to allow a day or two per week for recovery.
But don’t try to fit or force a rigorous training routine if your life doesn’t allow for it. You don’t want to lose precious family time or some necessary down time after work due to your fixation on the run. Try to work your way around schedules, but don’t put absolutes into the equation. The last thing you want is to complete the process, yet feel unhappy, lethargic and despondent.
- Dress rehearsal
A week or two before the actual race, try to have a dress rehearsal. Definitely not the full 42km, try a 6-7km mark. But do attempt to mimic the conditions as much as possible, including your attire, track route, as well as time of the day. This is to familiarise yourself with the marathon conditions as much as possible, as well as to help you see if you need to make any last minute adjustments.
- Rest, rest, rest
A few days before the actual race, take it easy. Rest. A light stroll or maybe a quick sprint is fine, but don’t exert yourselves. Give your body time to recover and recuperate, and save up energy for the well, big day.
During the marathon
- At the flag-off, don’t rush off
Sure, with all the runners gathered close to each other, the pumping heartbeat and the increasing adrenaline, you are prone to give in to your competitive instincts and just race off as soon the race officials flag you off. Don’t do that. If it is the first marathon, you are unlikely to sustain a similar pace throughout. Instead, try to lift off at a comfortable pace and conserve your energy for the latter stages. Furthermore, which would be a greater morale booster? Overtaking fellow racers at the 1km mark or at the 38km mark?
You will be losing body water through the form of sweat during the race. What’s more, the marathon is in Singapore, at some point in time you will be subject to the blazing hot sun. Remember to drink adequate water at the various water points to avoid dehydration. Obviously don’t consume too much water either.
- Set mini goals
Don’t unnecessarily dishearten yourself by constantly saying, “I still have 37km to go” or “I’m a couple of hours off the finish point!” Set small goals instead. For example, every 2km mark. Or maybe the end of that particular stretch of road. Create an easier point of focus, so that you will end up telling yourself “oh I have passed this tree!” or “I have reached the 25km mark!”
- Don’t give up
At some point in time you will want to give up. Whether it is the sight of racers from the concurrent half-marathon finishing their run, or your legs just screaming at you, the thought of falling out seems ever so tempting, at that point in time. Absolutely don’t. You have invested so much in the race, giving up when you are just hours from completing it is such a massive waste. Try keeping yourself pumped up by listening to music and singing along. Or try counting to block out the negativity. But absolutely do not entertain the giving up mantra.
- Enjoy the process. And the post-marathon celebrations
Finally you have crossed the finish line. Weeks and months of careful preparation and a few hours of physical torture, and you have finally made it. You gave so much into the race, once you have hit the mark, bask in your glory and success. Well done!
What are you waiting for? Sign up for your first marathon now!