9 success factors when preparing for a marathon

9 success factors when preparing for a marathon

Prepar­ing for a marathon is a real per­son­al chal­lenge for many run­ners. Whether you want to improve your endurance, achieve your weight loss goals, run for a char­i­ta­ble cause, push your lim­its or chal­lenge your­self, it is a sport­ing event that requires rig­or­ous and care­ful prepa­ra­tion.

What­ev­er your moti­va­tion, a num­ber of fac­tors come into play to bet­ter pre­pare you for a marathon and, of course, to cross the fin­ish line. From train­ing to sleep to your nutri­tion plan, one of the advan­tages of marathons is that the keys to suc­cess are known in advance, and it’s up to you to fol­low them to achieve your goals.

To make it eas­i­er, we’ve com­piled a non-exhaus­tive list of key ele­ments to con­sid­er when prepar­ing for and run­ning a marathon.


    1. Establish a training plan

    The first rule, sim­ple but fun­da­men­tal, is train­ing.

    As for any com­pe­ti­tion or event, prepar­ing for a marathon requires a rig­or­ous plan, defined in advance and adapt­ed to your goals, per­for­mance, strengths, and weak­ness­es. It is essen­tial to fol­low a train­ing plan that includes not only reg­u­lar and var­ied but also per­son­alised run­ning ses­sions:

    • Do you find it dif­fi­cult to run long dis­tances? Train in long, low-inten­si­ty ses­sions.
    • Need to increase the speed? Train in short­er but more intense runs.
    • Not enough mus­cle? Pre­pare mus­cle-strength­en­ing exer­cis­es to strength­en your legs and abs.

    Prepar­ing for a marathon takes not weeks but months. There­fore, define a detailed and pre­cise plan for each week (like three run­ning ses­sions dur­ing the week and one mus­cle strength­en­ing ses­sion…). Final­ly, train­ing on a ter­rain sim­i­lar to that of the marathon to get used to the race con­di­tions can be an excel­lent idea.

    2. Gradually increases distance and intensity

    The most impor­tant thing in prepa­ra­tion is not to rush to increase the dis­tance in train­ing ses­sions.

    This could eas­i­ly lead to injuries. It is, there­fore, advis­able to grad­u­al­ly increase the dis­tance run each week depend­ing on how you feel and your progress in pre­vi­ous weeks.

    3. Value warm-up and stretching

    Often neglect­ed or even under­es­ti­mat­ed, warm-up is essen­tial to any sports prepa­ra­tion.

    Before you start run­ning, warm up for about ten min­utes to pre­pare your knees and body for the fol­low­ing effort. In addi­tion, at the end of each run­ning ses­sion, stretch your mus­cles (main­ly in your legs) to reduce the risk of pain and stiff­ness.

    4. Don’t forget hydration and nutrition

    When prepar­ing for a marathon, your eat­ing plan is as impor­tant as your train­ing plan.

    Remem­ber to vary your diet and opt for sea­son­al veg­eta­bles, qual­i­ty car­bo­hy­drates (rice, whole­meal pas­ta, etc.), fruit (bananas, dates, etc.), white meat and fish. If nec­es­sary, take a vit­a­min sup­ple­ment (mul­ti­vi­t­a­mins, mag­ne­sium, zinc, etc.), which can help you recov­er after exer­cise. Remem­ber to ask your doc­tor for advice if you want to take a sup­ple­ment.

    On the marathon day, you should also pre­pare and eat snacks, prefer­ably liq­uids and spe­cif­ic gels, to avoid fatigue and a drop in activ­i­ty lev­el. Avoid eat­ing unfa­mil­iar food pro­vid­ed at refresh­ment points, and car­ry famil­iar snacks in your ruck­sack or pock­ets.

    5. Allow time for rest and recovery

    The ben­e­fits and effects of rest and recov­ery are often over­looked. How­ev­er, they often make a dif­fer­ence to your per­for­mance and the treat­ment of injuries and pain. Plan­ning and respect­ing rest days is essen­tial to allow mus­cles to repair and strength­en. For elite ath­letes, 7 to 8 hours of good qual­i­ty sleep is rec­om­mend­ed.

    6. Listen to your body to avoid injury

    Lis­ten to your body and, at the first sign of pain, avoid strain­ing mus­cles or joints. Per­for­mance is good, but good health and avoid­ing pain are bet­ter. The goal of a marathon is to pre­pare cor­rect­ly and cross the fin­ish line.

    7. Determine the necessary equipment

    Choose and test your run­ning shoes well. Run­ning shoes that are com­fort­able and suit­ed to your stride (to avoid pain and injury) are essen­tial for marathon prepa­ra­tion. Use your run­ning shoes only for this sport and do not use them for oth­er sports (foot­ball, weight train­ing, ten­nis…). Try on the shoes in the shop to ensure you choose the right mod­el for your feet.

    8. Prepare yourself mentally

    Men­tal prepa­ra­tion is as nec­es­sary as phys­i­cal prepa­ra­tion. It is cru­cial to set achiev­able goals, focus on the pos­i­tive aspects of the race, visu­alise the race and choose the music or pod­casts you will lis­ten to dur­ing the marathon to moti­vate you.

    9. Have a medical check-up before the race

    You will also need your doc­tor’s approval to pre­pare for a marathon.
    There­fore, you must have a med­ical check-up before you start train­ing, espe­cial­ly if you have a med­ical his­to­ry or health prob­lems. A doc­tor can tell you if you are fit to run a marathon and advise you on how to train safe­ly.

    We wish you the best of luck in your prepa­ra­tion and a good marathon.

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