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4 Marathon Training Tips To Help You Get Started

Katie Verburg is a personal trainer who is currently studying to become a certified holistic health coach. Here, she recounts her workout schedule as she adds "marathon training" to her schedule. Plus, tips for your own journey.

26.2 miles, they said. It'll be fun, they said. We'll see about that.

As a fitness educator who has spent nearly 10 years helping, training and pushing others to achieve their goals, running 26.2 miles without stopping wasn't something that sounded easily achievable. Slowly approaching turning another year older, wanting to take my fitness to an entirely different level, both physically and mentally, was the ultimate goal. What better way than to compete in a full marathon, something that less than 5 percent of the population has ever done?!

Vital Note: This article has been made available for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Your licensed healthcare professional can best provide you with the diagnosis and treatment of any medical condition and assist you as well in deciding whether a dietary supplement will be a helpful addition to your regimen.


The Challenge of marathon training

Educating individuals on the importance of strength training, mobility work, as well as basic tips on how to try new forms of exercise comes easy to someone who has been in the industry for years. Teaching people to try something new, to pick up a heavier dumbbell, or to stop continuously taking the same indoor cycling class are topics that majority of trainers discuss with potential clients on a daily basis. However, taking our own advice doesn't always come as easy. Going from only strength training or solely doing yoga to only running is a big adjustment – even for the most "in shape" individual.

Accepting that your training program has to steer away from what you’re used to is the first step. It's not realistic to add marathon training on top of your regular workout schedule. It’s not only unrealistic, it's also unsafe. The transition from lifting heavy weights for the majority of your workouts to focusing on accessory movements, speed work, mobility work, and flexibility to prevent injuries may seem foreign.

Like any new obstacle, fears may start to sneak in: What if strength is lost? What if muscles shrivel away from all the cardio? What if there are injuries? They're all normal thoughts during such a big commitment. But this is where we need to start trusting ourselves and our training program. Before starting, have a pep talk with yourself. Be aware that your workouts will need to temporarily change. And accept that that’s okay.

How do you get started marathon training?

Start slowly. If running isn't your thing, don't jump right into it and risk injuring yourself. In addition, be sure that if you do decide to be part of the 5 percent who completes a full marathon, make sure you give yourself enough time to properly train (4+ months in advance) to avoid injury.

What is the best cross-training for a marathon?

Ask a professional for help. While specific cross-training plans vary depending on your experience as a runner and in the gym, it's important to add strength work to your training plan. This will help you to run longer and stronger, improve your running form, and can even reduce your risk of injury. Not sure where to start? There are several running coaches and personal trainers available. But before signing on to work with them, verify that they are certified and have the education background you're looking for.

Follow a plan. If you have no idea where to start, do some research and stop by your local specialty running store for input, suggestions, and proper footwear. Most employees at specialty running stores have the education or resources you may need to get going, and they may be able to connect you with a running coach or a running plan to follow. Not only that, but most of these stores have weekly running groups that can help keep you accountable.

Do your homework. Mobility work is crucial for your body when you start asking your body to push through a two-hour workout. Be sure you spend some time with trigger point tools, foam rollers, proper warm-up and stretching, as well as basic accessory strength training exercises for your hips, hamstrings, and core. All of these all can help to prevent injuries. 


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