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How To Train For A Marathon: Seven Expert Tips To Get You Started

Here's what to do after you've signed up for that big (or, heck, small) race.

So, you’ve decided to sign up for a run! Congratulations! Whether it is a fun run, charity race or full on competition run, making the decision to train and complete any run (no matter the distance) is a rewarding journey.

We are more motivated and determined to put the work in when we have a goal—especially if you are running for a cause, like charity fundraising event. But even if your cause is simply to see how far you can go, how fast you can be, and how strong you really are, this will be an amazing experience.

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So whether you’re a first time race runner, or an avid competitor looking for advice, here’s how to start half marathon training or full marathon training.

1. Train the same time of day that the race will be.

In this way, you will literally prime your body (mentally and physically) to expect activity at this time, so that race day your body will know what to expect. This is especially handy when you are training for a super early morning run; you’ll also change your body clock in the process to become even more of a morning person! Win.

2. Start training long before the race.

Of course, if you are training for a marathon, start months before the big day. For those who are training for shorter distances, it depends on your fitness level and your desired goal, although you should start as soon as you can to get your body in tip-top shape. Less than four weeks to train for a race, even if a short one is usually too little time for your body to progress.

3. Mix up your training to boost fitness.

Training for a run doesn’t mean that all you should do is run. It’s actually more beneficial for your body to support it with mixing up your workouts. Add in resistance and strength training to boost your overall strength and body stability. Interval training like HIIT workouts and sprint training is an amazing way to boost your speed, and increase your stamina and cardiovascular sprinting.

4. Get clear on your why.

When you know your reason for doing the race, sticking to your training regime will be much easier to find the motivation. Mid race, reminding yourself why you started is also a way to bash doubtful thoughts and bypass your tired body to keep on going! Set yourself a goal to train towards. This may be reaching a certain time, not stopping to walk at all during the run, or simply just completing the race.

5. Make rest days a part of your schedule.

Give your body a chance to recover and integrate all the hard work you’ve been doing, and you’ll come back for your next run with more energy and strength. (Here’s why it’s so important.)

6. Don’t wear anything new on the day.

Especially running shoes! It’s a big no no to try out a new sports bra, shorts and even socks on your race day, as all of these can create chafing and blisters having not been ‘worked in’. It’s important to find a good pair of shoes and break them in, as well as running attire. You don’t want to be distracted by uncomfortable clothing during your race!

7. Nourish your body.

To get the most out of your body, you need to support it with adequate nutrition and energy. For longer distances, plenty of carbohydrates will be perfect for your body to draw energy from. Make sure you have a diet rich in fats, proteins and carbs and of course, drink more water than you usually would on training days. Bananas are a runners friend: Easy to digest, great source of carbohydrates and simple and easy. Especially on race day, eating a banana an hour before will give your body an extra boost!

BONUS TIP: ENJOY yourself! Enjoy the journey, relish in the feeling of being strong and fit, and celebrate your dedication to the challenge of training. Be sure to congratulate yourself and celebrate after the race, no matter whether you finished or reached your goal.

Do what you can and love yourself for the effort!

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