If you were one of the lucky ones to get a guaranteed or lottery entry to one of the big, exciting Fall marathons (Chicago, MCM, NYC), or are planning to run one of the other smaller but equally exciting races, you may be wondering when is the best time to start preparing.
Though we’re several months out from the majority of these races, the time is really now to begin “training” for your Fall race.
This does not mean you should be doing 16,18, 20+ mile long runs here in the next month or so. In fact, I wouldn’t suggest significant long runs until you’re much deeper into your training program to avoid burnout or injury. But assuming you’re currently running at least a handful of miles here and there, this is a great opportunity to begin building a base of miles, as well as speed, strength and of course cross training.
Many training programs will officially kick off late May, early June, but here are a few things you can be doing right NOW to prepare your body, and mind, for summer marathon training.
Set Your Sights
Whether this will be your first marathon and you’re hoping to “just finish” or you’re a seasoned marathoner with a big goal in mind, your goals are unique to YOU. But don’t just consider your finish line goal, think about the process as well. Marathon training is an undertaking. Early morning runs, weekend long runs, foam rolling, stretching, strength training, nutrition and exhaustion (not to mention the hanger) are all apart of the journey. You have a life outside of running, so start thinking about how you will manage it all. Take a moment to write down of course your ultimate goal of race day but also your short term action goals on how you plan to achieve said goal through training.
Begin Building Base Mileage
Many recreational runners struggle to find motivation while not currently training for something specific. We’ll pick up some miles here and there, maybe get the itch for a longer run, but often find ourselves falling off from our consistent training without the pressure of a race. If this is you or if you’ve just found yourself feeling less and less motivated, this is a great time to make running more routine.
A great way to build up base mileage is schedule a few days per week you will (re)dedicate to running. If you feel somewhat “out of shape” from it all, give yourself a little grace and take it nice and easy (trust me, you’ll have plenty of time to push yourself here soon) recognizing you may not be where you once were or where you’d like to be, but with consistent training, you’ll feel strong and prepared. Slowly start adding a little bit more distance and/or time every couple of weeks to your runs. Designate a day on the weekend that will be for your long run. Consider meeting up with or formulating a group of runner friends you can get through those long runs with when training kicks in. This will help you already be in a bit of a routine when training starts, allowing you to hit the ground running (pun totally intended) feeling less overwhelmed with the pressures of training.
Cross Training For Aerobic Base
Before you know it, you will be putting in a ton of miles. If you tend to get a little burnt out on just running, whether physically or mentally, this is the perfect time to do some cross training. Add in an additional day or (temporarily) swap out a running day for another form of cardio. Swimming, biking (road, indoor or even spin class), elliptical or row machine are all great ways to get your heart working similarly to running without the impact and monotony of pounding the pavement.
Strength Training for Performance and Injury Prevention
Pre-marathon training is the absolute best time to introduce strength and conditioning training. I often speak of the benefits of strength training for distance running for not just performance but also for injury prevention. This is a great opportunity to begin a program that will help build strong, lean muscles, lose body fat, improve posture, and prepare your muscles and connective tissue for the demands of distance running. That way you’ll head into marathon training strong, healthy and ready to take on all the miles!
Pick a Plan/Coach
In a few short weeks, you will embark on your marathon journey. Whether it’s your first of your fiftieth, having a plan in place to prepare is of the utmost importance when taking on the marathon distance. Now is the perfect time to begin researching a plan or coach that is best suited for you and your goals. There are a lot of great resources in books and online if you’re not quite ready to make an investment in a coach, but be sure to do your research to ensure it’s a safe and effective plan to that will work for you and your specific goals and needs. Also, consider looking for local run clubs who offer training programs or at least group runs you can join in on. Lastly, in my professional opinion, one of the best ways to achieve your goals through safe and progressive training is to hire an experienced, certified coach. A coach will not only build a program tailored specifically for you, but will also be vested in your journey and goals, holding you accountable and encouraging you each step of the way.
We’re currently taking on clients for Fall marathon training cycles. For more information on our training, visit our services page or email us soon to book your free, no obligation consultation. Happy training!