The trick to run a marathon and not die in the process is simple: you need to train! Going 26.2 miles is quite a lot for your body to handle, but you’ll be much better off if you’ve already prepared yourself for the stress and strain. Lazy training can mean serious consequences for marathon runners, including dehydration, injuries and possibly even death.
Give yourself plenty of training time. You need at least a few months to train for a marathon and this is if you’re already an experienced runner. Otherwise, give yourself even longer. Remember, you should only be increasing your mileage each week by about 10 percent, or you could risk injury.
Make your distance runs count. Most of your training runs are about speed and quality. However, your once a week distance run is what will help you run the marathon and not die. Don’t skimp on your mileage. You should get up to at least 25 miles, and this should be run two weeks before marathon day. Put in a good fifteen mile run the week before.
Pay attention to your gear. In addition to training, you need to be ready on marathon day with all the gear you need. Wear shoes that you’ve been wearing to train so there are no surprises. Wear clothing for the weather and dress in layers. It’s not likely that you’ll want to run the whole marathon in a long sleeve shirt. Also, wear real running shirts made of nylon, not cotton. The most important gear to run the marathon and not die is water! You must stay hydrated during your run. Water stops probably aren’t enough, so bring it with you. Several belt-like products are available that allow you to strap the water around your waist.
Pace yourself during the race. If you try to run too hard and too fast at the beginning of the marathon, you risk health consequences. Choose a realistic pacing goal for yourself, and even if you feel like you can run faster now, you’ve got to keep this up for over 26 miles! One good strategy is timing your pace carefully during the first thirteen to fifteen miles and then letting your body tell you what pace feels comfortable. You may even want to shut off your pacing watch during that second half.
Hydrate afterward. At some races, you are greeted at the finish line with a frosty mug of beer. This is a bad idea! Alcohol will dehydrate your already worn out, dehydrated body. You need lots of water supplemented with sports drinks that contain electrolytes. Drink slowly and often after the marathon is over to prevent residual adverse health effects.