We often see marathon run pictures of our friends on social media and wonder; someday, I should also participate in such events. Running in marathon events is enjoyable and gives a sense of achievement by surpassing our own past records. For participating in it, you need to have good endurance, which is not built overnight. One needs to do training systematically to build cardiovascular endurance. We have outlined the program which a beginner person can follow to prepare his body for marathon timed runs. There is no standard time mentioned for progressions as it varies from individual to individual.
Step-1: Build your base for cardio training
The very first step is to start building the habit of walking for 20 mins for at least 3 days in a week on alternate days. Once you are able to complete 20 mins walk, then graduate to jogging at slow speed for 20 to 30 mins. Make progress slowly from low speed to moderate speed. Continue jogging on alternate days till you reach the stage where you feel comfortable and minimal fatigue after the run. After achieving this milestone, your base is built-up for cardio training.
Step-2: Train for cardiovascular fitness
You should now introduce intervals of 5 mins run after every 10 mins of jogging at a moderate speed so that you complete 2 intervals in 30 mins. As you start feeling comfortable, increase the 5 mins intervals to three times by reducing the jogging time to 5 mins. Thus in 30 mins, you will complete 3 intervals of running and 3 of jogging at moderate speed run. Your next target is to increase the volume of training by increasing the duration to 90 mins with a frequency of 4 days in a week. Maintain a 1:1 ratio of 5 mins run and 5 mins jogging at moderate speed.
Step-3: Prepare for timed distance runs
After building cardiovascular fitness, you can now start preparing for timed distance runs. Training program for these runs is divided into three components which are as follows
1. Cardio respiratory training
For competitive timed runs, you need to train for both speed and distance separately. Keep one day in a week for running at high-speed intervals. It is the speed at which you will face difficulty to speak while running. You will not be able to run at this speed for long, but it will train your cardiovascular system to make oxygen available to working muscles faster. Similarly, keep one more day for introducing intervals of slightly higher speed than jogging at which you feel slight discomfort in speaking. Remaining 3 days, you will do jogging at moderate speed and cover a higher distance, which is equal to the distance of running an event.
2. Resistance training
Marathon is an endurance event where you need to involve muscle for a longer period of time. To increase muscular endurance, include resistance training for two days in a week. One day is to be kept for training lower body and the second day for the upper body. For lower body do Free Squat, Lunges, Leg Curl, Leg Extension, and Standing Calf Raise exercises. For upper body do push-ups, pull-ups, overhead press, hyper extension, and plank exercises.
3. Flexibility training
Flexibility is one of the components of fitness and very important for running. It not only increases the performance but also helps in avoiding injuries like Runners Knee, Achilles Tendinitis, ITB Syndrome, etc. Due to overuse, the muscle gets tight and becomes prone to injury. By stretching them regularly, we can prevent these injuries. Do the stretching exercises for hamstring, quads, ITB, calf, hip flexor, and hip rotator muscles two times with thirty-second hold.
Typical training program for half marathon:-
|Monday||Jogging for 2 hrs at moderate speed
|Tuesday||2 Sets of 3 times 60 sec run at fast speed with 3 mins rest period between intervals. Take 10 min Rest between sets.
45 mins Resistance Training for upper body
|Wednesday||Jogging for 2 hrs at moderate speed
|Thursday||1 Set of 3 times 5 mins run at slightly higher than moderate speed with 5 min Rest (1:1)
45 mins Resistance Training for lower body
|Friday||Jogging for 2 hrs at moderate speed
|Saturday & Sunday||Rest day|
Track the pace and distance of your every run. There are various free mobile apps available which help in measuring distance, time & speed split wisely. You will observe a gradual increase in performance week on week, and you will be ready for a marathon run in some time.
Step-4: Plan your nutrition for marathon day
Nutrition is an important aspect to be considered for optimum performance in a marathon. Marathon is an event that continues for more than an hour, and you need fuel continuously to run. Before 2 to 3 days of the event, increase the intake of carbohydrates. It will maximize the glycogen stores in your body and will take a longer time to get depleted. You should also carry sports drinks during the run and drink a small amount of it every half an hour so that glucose is available all the time in the body.
Thus through a systematic fitness training program you can build your cardiovascular endurance for the marathon. Progress in running performance happens with time, so you need to train and keep your motivation high continuously. Register for the marathons in your city at least every alternate month. It will keep you motivated to remain active and train regularly. Aim to beat your own past records and build the new one.