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5 Tips for Preparing to Run a Marathon

Running a marathon is a great accomplishment, but it can be daunting, especially if you’ve never ran one before. You’ll definitely have to train before you run a marathon, but there are some other factors you’ll want to consider to get yourself ready. Aside from getting yourself physically ready for a marathon, injury prevention is a big concern.

Whether you’re training for the marathon or it’s the day of the big race, you’ll want to keep these tips in mind to keep yourself injury-free.

1. Choose the right shoes and clothing.

Look for a shoe with good shock absorption that will cushion the foot and provide stability. If you are a regular runner, keep in mind that running shoes lose 60% of their shock absorption after 250 to 500 miles of use, so you’ll want to replace your running shoes after that point. You’ll also want to make sure you dress appropriately. Wear clothing designed for running, and wear the appropriate clothing for the weather. Dress in layers if it’s cold outside. Decide ahead of time what shoes and clothing you are going to wear to the race so you can make sure you are comfortable and your shoes are properly broken in. Don’t run the marathon in brand-new shoes; you won’t know whether or not they are comfortable or will cause problems.

2. If it’s your first time, start with a half-marathon.

It’s better to start with a half-marathon first if you’ve never run a marathon before. It gives you a chance to try it out and see how far you have to go with your training to participate in a full marathon. If the half-marathon is a challenge, you may need to train longer to prepare yourself for the full marathon.

3. Pace yourself–don’t overdo it.

Over-training can do more harm than good. Your muscles need time to heal themselves, and your body needs to recover. You shouldn’t be running every single day–give yourself at least one rest day a week to avoid burnout and fatigue. Also, when you are running long distances, you won’t want to run at full pace the whole time, or you’ll wear yourself out.

4. Drink lots of water.

For every 20 minutes of running, you can lose as much as 6 to 12 ounces of fluid. You’ll need to drink water often to replace the water your body is losing. Dehydration can make you feel weak and dizzy, and it can also cause muscle cramps because the muscles aren’t getting the fluids they need. If you can, find out how far apart each water station is for the marathon, and aim to drink at the same intervals when training.

5. Always warm up and stretch.

As with any athletic activity, a short warm-up followed by stretching is crucial before you run. Running with tight, cold muscles increases your chances of injury, so you should never skip the warm-up. After you’ve finished running, you should also stretch to prevent any muscle tightness afterward. Focus on stretching the hamstrings, glutes, calves, and lower back in particular.

Running a marathon is a great goal to aspire to, especially if you want to get into a healthier lifestyle. Follow these tips to help prevent injuries so you can stay on target with your training and successfully complete the marathon.