Best Training Advice for Marathons

  • squally

    Posts: 180

    Jan 03, 2015 8:07 AM GMT
    Hello Real Jocks,

    This year I am planning on completing a few races - starting with a 5KM in March and ending it with a Marathon race in October.

    Any thoughts or advice on diet, shoes or training?
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    Jan 03, 2015 2:48 PM GMT
    In order to complete a marathon, you have to find a way to run with pain. It's going to hurt, no matter how well you train. Even when you slow down or walk briefly at water stops to grab a drink, your feet will not catch a break until after the race.

    That being said, you're smart to train for a 5k and build on that for about 6 months. If you haven't already found a training plan, get one. It will take the guesswork out, and you'll see what distances and what types of runs to do on which days.

    As far as shoes, go to a reputable running shoe store and have a rep analyze your gait. They will recommend a shoe that's right for you. If you can afford two pairs, buy two, because your first pair will probably wear out leading up to your marathon. (General rule of thumb is 250-300 miles per pair of running shoes before they start to break down.)

    Depending on what you wear for a shirt, your nipples might chafe. Not fun. If that happens, put Band Aids over them before you get dressed and they won't chafe.

    If you wear cotton underwear under shorts to run, again you may chafe because cotton will absorb moisture, and your inner thighs will come into contact with the cotton while you run, which will feel like razor blades slicing into your skin, especially when your sweat finds the chafed skin. Wear running shorts with a built in liner and if you need more support than that, wear something like an Under Armour brief.

    Stretch before and after every run. Don't be afraid of taking Ibuprofen afterward if you're achy. Hydrate with an electrolyte replacement after your run. Make sure you eat well, and get good rest throughout your training but especially leading up to a marathon.
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    Jan 03, 2015 2:51 PM GMT
    I'm not sure if you are already a runner, but training time is important, especially for a marathon.

    For me it was really helpful to carb load before and after training. I know some people can't run on a full stomach. I dont' have problems with it being rice and vegetables..

    As for shoes, go to a running store and get fitted. You might need to buy two pairs and alternate so you can break both in.

    I enjoyed training for it, though my boyfriend gave up so I stopped. Maybe I would be a marathon runner instead of a weightlifting person if he hadn't icon_razz.gif
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    Jan 03, 2015 3:56 PM GMT

    One jock said it right. All the way down to the nipples. It really is uncomfortable so wear those band aids. They also make this product for runners called nip guard but it's really just a smaller band aid so it's not worth the money.

    When I run, I generally do the first 5 miles running on my toes because it makes me run at a faster speed, but it tires me out faster. After that, I run on my heels to toe.

    Remember just accomplishing this is a great goal so don't worry about your time. It is however a good idea to keep track of your times.

    Finally, concerning shoes, I found myself buying four pairs of the Nike live strong shoes. They were the most comfortable shoes I ever ran in. My last pair wore out :/
  • DanOmatic

    Posts: 1155

    Jan 03, 2015 6:28 PM GMT
    Don't overtrain! There's a tendency to think more is better, and a lot of novices will err on the side of pushing too many miles, and that's when injuries set in. Have a training plan, but also listen to your body. Rest on rest days.
  • FRE0

    Posts: 4839

    Jan 03, 2015 8:27 PM GMT
    Don't be disappointed if you cannot run a marathon. Many guys do very well with a 1/2 marathon but cannot run a marathon. Some of us don't have bodies built for that.

    I ran the first Heart of San Diego marathon in 1978; that was it. I had trouble during training but even so expected to be able to maintain an easy eight minute per mile pace. I was not able to. Near the end, I actually walked two miles although I was able to run the last mile. It took me about four hours. Afterward, it was three weeks before I could even run again.

    You still have plenty of training time left, but if you continually have trouble with over-use injuries during training and cannot overcome them, it would be best to satisfy yourself with shorter distances.
  • Ironman4U

    Posts: 737

    Jan 03, 2015 10:33 PM GMT
    My advice comes from running in over a dozen marathons, including Boston, as well as lots of Ironman racing and coaching. There's a whole lot to learn before your first marathon; most of it will come as you start to run more and learn from what works and doesn't.

    1. Invest in a good pair of running shoes based on your gait. That means you will have to go to a running specialty store so an experienced runner can analyze. They will do this for free. DO NOT go to Dick's or some other big box or general fitness store. They won't have the specific understanding that you need. A specialty running store is also a great place to find out about running and training groups.

    2. In addition to proper shoes, proper clothing is also important. Invest in proper running shorts and tops (not cotton). I personally buy running shorts that have a liner and pockets. A liner so I don't have to wear undergarments and worry about chafing and pockets so I can put in a gu (gel) or salt tablets (S-Caps) on long runs and in marathons.

    3. Get a plan. There are plenty of plans online if you don't end up training with a marathon training team (although I would google to see if there is one in your town - or find out at the local running store). Check out Hal Higdon's free training plans online. He has one for all different levels.

    4. As was mentioned by Dan-o-matic, don't overtrain. Instead train smart. I prefer only 3 days of running and cross-training with cycling and swimming. You can add a 4th day, but I would not run 5 or 6 days a week, because you are just pounding out more miles than necessary and they end up being junk miles. Instead, make each run have a purpose - I prefer a weekly training plan with runs on Tues/Thurs/Saturday. I'll do speed work (interval repeats in HR Zone 4) on Tuesday, a tempo run (Zone 3) on Thursday and an endurance or long run (Zone 2) on Saturday.

    5. Your most important run of the week is your long run where you are incrementally increasing your mileage each week. They are critical to building your endurance engine necessary for completing a marathon. If you have to alter your schedule for the week, this is not the run that you skip or short-change. Depending on how long your training period is for the marathon, you will want to train in blocks where you build up for several weeks and then have a recovery week where your mileage will back down for one week.

    6. Nutrition and hydration are really important. Make sure that your body is fueled properly and that you are taking in the right amounts of fuel and hydration. I could write a book on this alone, so I won't make this overly long. Just do some research here and experiment with what works for your body and the conditions you'll be training in. Obviously, if you are training in hot or humid weather in the summer; you'll have to adjust from what you would do during your marathon in October.

    7. Last but not least - recovery. Give your body time to recover between hard workouts/runs. After long runs, make sure you are replacing amino acids and helping your body restore itself as quickly as possible - within 30-40 minutes after completing your workout. Endurox R4 (I like the chocolate flavor) is my favorite post-long run recovery drink. It's a mix that you can buy in a running store or online. If I go for more than 2 hours on a run, it's a leg-saver. Getting in some carbs and protein with real food is important too (3:1). Part of recovery also means having a proper taper at least two weeks out from your actual marathon. If you're following a training plan, this will be part of it.

    I've probably given you more info than you want right now, but feel free to shoot me an email if you have specific questions. Good luck!
  • jock_n_ca

    Posts: 148

    Jan 04, 2015 12:33 AM GMT
    all the above is sage advice. there's a ton of resources online. find a plan that works for your pace and schedule. my first marathon was awesome because i had no expectations.
  • BlackCoach

    Posts: 37

    Jan 04, 2015 2:12 AM GMT
    I have run a few Marathons and can give you a few tips.

    Long slow distance. Your first Marathon goal is complete this race.
    After you get this one under your belt then you worry about time. Running a marathon is A MARATHON!

    Hydrate yourself. Water is nice but you need something more. you will get fluids during the race but you should be properly hydrated. If you going to the bathroom just before the race then you doing good. Even if it is a pain!!

    dress for success. Can you say layers in the winter!!.. You will warm up ....

    Know the terrain. The crown of roads can make it very hard on you. Running on nice even payment is nice for training but marathons are held on roads that cars drive on. It won't be even.

    You need to run a marathon before you run your real Marathon. Increase your training distance by 10% every weekend. I don't know what your base is right now.

    Food--- carbs, carbs, carbs, this not a time to try and lose weight!!!

    trace minerals keep you from cramping..

    band aids on nipples is a great advice.

    Misery loves company so , find someone else to train and run with.

    Shoes, shoes, shoes. ..IF you flat footed, wear proper shoes. Soft shoes for a flat footed person will hurt,. If you flatted footed, see a podiatrist first,OUCH!! Don't wear shoes you have been running in for months. Better to buy a new pair and break them in..

    as the race gets closer, you should be winding it down not up. Week before race is not when you should be running 26.2 miles!!!

    wear a heart rate monitor if you have no partner.

    Hope this help..There is plenty more.

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 04, 2015 7:24 AM GMT
    All the above is great advice, but I'll add a few more points as my 2 cents.

    As you train, and run longer and longer distances, really experiment with different things (eg. shirts, shorts, socks, fuels, hydrates, etc.) to learn what your body and taste buds really respond to...and then stick with them.

    As you get closer and closer to your race date, you'll meet more and more runners who will recommend different things, especially at your pre-race expo. The time to try new things is not on your race day! So learn what's good for you and stick with it.

    I had a problem with nipple chafing as well, and I personally sweat too much for band aids to stick. I switched to a liquid bandage (I used Skin Shield, but there are others), and it was much better. Just FYI, in case you run into a similar problem.

    ...and finally, A.B.S. Always Be Stretching!

    Good luck & Have Fun!
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    Jan 04, 2015 6:50 PM GMT
    2:35 guy here.

    It's very simple. Run as much as you can without breaking and mix up the pace. For me, that's around 100 miles per week. For you that might be 50, and that's OK.

    One long run per week, and one very long run every two weeks.

    Don't increase mileage by more than 10% per week.

    You can survive a marathon on the minimal training recommended upthread (3-4 days, cross-training) but you will not run nearly as well or as easily as you could with serious training (7 days a week, some double sessions). It depends on what your goals are.
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    Jan 04, 2015 8:33 PM GMT
    I'm not really a runner/jogger, so my advice is probably "blah" at best, but I think before you run a marathon it might be a wise decision to go to the Doctor first. That way the doctor can assess if you need to adhere to any special precautions while running. It might not be a necessity, but its comforting to hear a doctor say " YOUR HEALTH IS OVER 9000!!!!.....oh, and you should be fine running a long race". Just food for thought

    Shooting Star and...

    "The more you know"
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    Jan 04, 2015 10:07 PM GMT
    Lots of good advice above -- maybe too much for a newbie to process. I suggest that you find a marathon training group; many cities have them, often affiliated with a sports store. Not only will you have company along the way, but these programs will bring in experts in a number of areas to teach and answer your questions: podiatry, PT, nutrition, shoes, ...
    If you're not fortunate to live where such a training club exists, then pick one of the MANY on-line training programs mentioned already. Process it and stick to it. But such things are usually better when you have company, so talk one of your buds into joining you on this exciting journey. Check out

    Keep us posted on your progress in the RUNNING FORUM. Good luck.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 05, 2015 4:08 AM GMT
    I've run three. Lot's of good advice here. I don't have anything to add but this: PICK A GOOD MARATHON TO RUN!

    After all the training you will put in you want the actual race itself to be fun. Avoid hilly courses for your first race. Avoid those locations where inclement weather is a concern. Find one with a good supportive crowd for all 26 miles. Trust me - you will feed off them after mile 18.

    I continue to recommend the Chicago Marathon for rookies.

    Good luck!
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Jan 05, 2015 4:53 AM GMT
    Learn how to run, um....very, very far.....