Tips to run a marathon

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

I must admit that I am a couch potato, I have not been running since the last Kuala Lumpur International Marathon 2008 (KLIM 2008) in March 2008 and Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Half Marathon in May 2008. I would consider myself the back of the pack runners. Now, I want to start training again for the next year KLIM 2009 and many more marathons and half marathons. Anyway, for the first time marathoner here are ten things to remember in order to attempt those 42 KM:

1. The right attitude
Running a marathon is 75% mental, 25% physical. If you are determined to run 42KM you can do it. It doesn't matter if you're overweight or a smoker (if you do have a weight problem, get a doctor's okay). I am an overweight myself. At 170 cm, I am 80 kg. That is way overweight when I use the BMI calculator. It may take someone not in the best shape a bit longer to finish, but it is possible. My Marathon time is 6 hours and 24 minutes (KLIM 2008). I want to beat that time in next marathon. Yeah!

2. The right shoes
Find a sports store to buy your shoes, and talk to someone who has run a marathon before. Test the shoes out to find if they're comfortable. Buy new shoes at least a month before the marathon. If you feel the slightest discomfort during a training run, take the shoes back to the store. Better to find the right pair of shoes rather than suffer through 26 miles of misery.My first shoes are Bata, then I switch to Nike and now I'm using Brooks. I wouldn't recommend Bata if you're training for a marathon

3. Fluids, lots of them
Never skimp on the fluids. On any run of more than three miles, carry a water bottle with you. By the time you feel thirsty, your body is already growing dehydrated. During the marathon take advantage of all the water stops. Walk through the stops and refuel on Gatorade, Powerade, or water.

4. A running buddy
The long training runs of 20 KM or more can be lonely, and a running companion will make all the difference in the world. Many major cities now have running groups. Inquire at your local sports store. I always bring my wife to accompany me while I'm running. But she don't like to run so she just would be cycling beside me while I'm running. The advantage is, she can carry my water bottle.

5. The right running clothes
First time runners tend to over dress. The rule of thumb is to dress as if the temperature is 20 F degrees hotter than it actually is. In cooler weather, wear layered clothes - a sweatshirt that you can later tie around your waist, for example. Before the marathon day, find a thrift store and buy sweatpants and sweatshirts that you can discard along the race route.

6. A good training schedule
A weekly schedule will consist of a long run on the weekends, and two short (3-4 mile) runs during the week. Start training six months before the event. Don't run two days in a row. For long runs on the weekends, don't add your miles each week incrementally, six, seven, eight . . . Go seven miles, then the next week five, followed by nine the week after. Continue increasing your distances this way throughout your training. This method will avoid running injuries.

7. A bag of frozen peas
No, not for eating. A cold bag of frozen peas is perfect for applying to aching calves after a long run. The cold temperature will help the muscles contract, thus causing them to heal faster. Never get into a hot bath to soothe aching muscles.

8. Jog the first 2KM of the marathon as slow as possible
Get to the back of the pack, and let everyone else pass you by. Around 30KM you will be passing them up. Many novice runners forget the distance they're attempting. Take it easy at the beginning, because you will definitely need your strength for what lay ahead. Your only goal for the first marathon is to finish successfully.

9. A big pasta dinner two nights before the marathon
Don't go for anything exotic or spicy the days preceding the big day, or you may be waiting in line for a port-a-potty on marathon morning. Eat lots of carbohydrates. The carbs will provide energy for the running. And of course no alcohol.

10. Scale back your runs the month before the big date
Your last training run should be a 42 KM a month before the marathon date. After that, scale back to30, then 21, and a week before the marathon do a 12 KM. And the week before the big date, relax. No more runs. Just pasta eating. In Malaysia, you may opt for rice.

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