Marathon Training for Beginners
I have found following article very interesting….
Very few feelings beat that of crossing the finish line. The sense of pride and accomplishment are incredible and the energy and excitement at any local race are contagious and you will remember every race you run in. And you, yes YOU, can experience those feelings too! Follow this progressive STEP training program and you’ll soon be crossing finish lines on the way to that ultimate finish line at the end of your first marathon. You might even add a few trophies to your mantle along the way!
You’ll reach your long-term marathon goal by training for shorter races in the beginning and increasing your training time and intensity levels as you progress. During each “step” of training, you will train for and complete (at least) one 5K race, one 10K race, a half-marathon, and finally, the ultimate challenge, one full-length marathon. It CAN be done, and YOU can do it. Here’s how to get started.
If you are new to running, the first step to safe and injury free training is proper footwear. You need a pair of shoes designed specifically for running. Not walking shoes, not cross-training shoes…running shoes. Find a pair of running shoes that fit your budget and your weight and your foot shape. Check your local running store or sporting goods store, and grab some good running socks while you’re there. This investment now will help prevent injury and problems like shin-splints that could slow down your progress. As you advance through the training steps, you may want to reward yourself with new and more advanced shoes after each race level.
Equipment needed – none. Fancy split-time watches and expensive strap-on heart rate monitors may be fun to play with, but other than a decent pair of shoes, there is NO equipment needed to run. You will, however, need a safe training route or track to run on. It also helps if the total distance is known for training purposes.
Step 1. Training for your first 5K. It’s always good to have a goal, a target to shoot for. A 5k race is the perfect short-term goal for the beginning runner. Once you complete your first race, that sense of accomplishment will motivate you to continue training and work harder to reach that next level.
During this initial step, you will be training for total time first, then switch training to reach a total 5k distance. If you are a rank beginner, you will be walking and running for a total of 30 minutes at least 3 days per week, but not more than 5 days per week to avoid stress injuries (shin splints) and overtraining. A sample initial session would involve 30 seconds of running followed by 30 seconds of walking (recovery) for a total of 30 minutes. Don’t worry about distance at this point, during each session strive for running longer times and walking shorter amounts of time. Alternate running and walking until you can run continuously for 30 minutes.
Once you can run for a total of 30 minutes comfortably and continuously, it’s time to shift your training focus to completing a distance of 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) within your 30-minute session. Once you can run 5 kilometers in 30 minutes comfortably AND continuously it’s time to switch focus slightly again. Tomorrow, or during your next session, try to run that 5k in 29 minutes, then 28 minutes, then 27 minutes, and so on.
Congratulations! You are now a runner. Not a walker, not a jogger, but a runner and you are now ready to enter your first 5K race. Why not THIS weekend? Yes, you ARE ready, you can now run continuously for a total distance of 5 kilometers and once that adrenaline kicks in on race day, you may surprise yourself with how quickly you complete that 5-kilometer distance! Think about how good that trophy will look on your shelf…
Step 2. Training for your first 10K. It’s time to step-up your training, your goal is to run a little faster and longer. If you feel good, you may want to increase your training days from 3 per week to 5 times per week. If at all possible make the last day of your training week Saturdays. Why? Because as soon as you can run 10 kilometers comfortably and continuously, you are going to enter as many 10K weekend fun-runs as you can. In the beginning of this second phase, these weekly fun-runs are only for training and fun. The last day of the training week should always be your “long” run, in this case, 10 kilometers (6.2 miles) why not do that long run at a local 10K?
Just like that first phase of training, you will run a little longer each session until you can run comfortably and continuously for 10 kilometers. Once you can run the distance, spend the next sessions developing your speed, try to run that 10 kilometers in less time each session. And as previously stated, sign up for those weekend 10Ks and watch your times improve each week as that competitive spirit kicks in! At some point, you will begin running those 10K’s as a competitor rather than using then solely as a training tool. Congratulations (again), it’s time to graduate to the next level of training and competition…the half-marathon!
Step 3. Training for your first half-marathon. You have now built a very strong base for increasing your training to complete your first half-marathon. Your long run every week is your 10K distance and now we are about to double that again. The half-marathon is about 21.1 kilometers or 13.1 miles. Set a goal of running your first half-marathon in 12 weeks and keeping your training days at 5 per week, allowing for rest and recovery. Try to keep your long run on weekends, and you can continue to run your fun-run 10Ks, but shift your focus to running those 10ks FASTER each time. You are no longer a runner, you are now a competitive endurance athlete!
Just like the previous steps, each session should now be focused on running further until you can complete the half-marathon distance comfortably and continuously. You may only be able to run that total 21K distance on alternating weeks due to time constraints and the stress that it puts on your body. But, by now YOU have the experience and ability to judge when YOU are ready to enter AND complete your first half-marathon!
Step 4. Training for your marathon. Can you guess how to progress from a half-marathon to a full marathon? You’re right, increase your training distance until you can comfortably and continuously run 42.2 kilometers or 26.2 miles! Allow yourself another 12 weeks to accomplish this final goal. But, it CAN be done, and yes, YOU can do it! – Train safely!