How to survive your first marathon

February 14, 2019

Photo credit: Times Magazine 


As an amateur, preparing for your first marathon will always be a difficult endeavour. Combining your work/social life with a strict training regime is something that must be executed perfectly. That’s why for any individual amateur just starting out, completing a marathon can appear to be a daunting task.


Luckily, you are not alone - here is an informative reflection of a fellow amateur’s training journey that has led to his qualification for the imminent Standard Chartered Marathon.


Photo credit: Marathon Newbie 




My typical training week consists of 5 training sessions: starting with a mid-range base run on Monday, followed with track work on Tuesday and progression runs on Wednesday. Tempo runs follow on Thursday, and long slow runs end the week on Saturday. 


All my sessions are accompanied by my friend, who helps provide me with immediate feedback after each session through a Garmin server. This is an integral part of my regime - the analysis of the data allows me to assess my performance, generating information I could then use to plan my next session.


95% of the time, I run alone. This obviously has its upsides and downsides. Ideally, a partner would be great for slow long runs as you would have someone to talk to, but also for track running since you would naturally push yourself more than when running alone. 


On the other side, my regime is tailored to my schedule and therefore do not have to adjust to anyone else’s.


It is also important to note that as an amateur, I have to prioritise school over my passion. It’s not ideal, but I’m not a professional, and therefore it is something I must accept. Don’t be afraid to accept this reality as well.


 Photo credit: AF.mill




Proper stretching after each training is extremely important. I often use a foam roller which removes lactic acid to assist my recovery. However, I discovered that the most efficient technique was to plank my legs vertically up a wall after my initial recovery exercise. 




With regards to dieting, I’m quite liberal. Undoubtedly, a proper diet would lead to better results, but as previously mentioned, I'm an amateur who runs for fun. 


Nonetheless, I try to eat a lot of vegetables and fruits, oats and whole grain pasta - foods with plenty of carbs that can fill up my glycogen stores. Admittedly, I have a bit of a sweet tooth, so when I’m in the mood, I occasionally cave in. 


Although I’ve never followed a specific diet, my friend (a nutrition specialist) advised me to go on a diet a week before my next race. 


Essentially, it is a combination of a low and a high carb diet. For the first five days, you must not consume any carbohydrates which forces your body to use what is already stored. Eventually, when your cells are depleted, you replenish your body with lots of high carb foods. 


Ultimately, this should result in more energy and improved performance on race day.



Special thanks to Ondrej Hengeric



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