4 Surprises from Your First Marathon Training Schedule
So you’re finally doing it. You’re running your first marathon.
You’ve got the shoes, the training schedule, and the will to finally make this happen. As you look
through the schedule though, a few weird points pop out that you wonder if someone made a mistake.
The training schedule seems incomplete. There are a couple surprises that make you feel like you won’t
be ready for the race.
Avoiding Hip and Knee injuries
First, your body is not conditioned to run 26.2 miles before the race. Even with three to six months of
training, your program doesn’t put you much past 20 miles.
The reason for it is that once you get into that longer mileage, your body needs more time to rest before
the next run. If you push it too much past that point on your first round, then you could find yourself
with season ending injuries.
These injuries could require the help of a hip replacement surgeon, to make matters worse. So your first
marathon training schedule isn’t likely going to take you past 20 miles, to keep you from injury.
This means that you’re going to be running the next 6.2 miles on
faith. Once you understand that, you should know that your
body can do it.
Your training schedule wouldn’t have taken you on such a low
mileage if you couldn’t be just fine adding the extra mileage.
You’ll be fine for your 26.2 mile stretch, just be sure to rest
properly afterwards to keep yourself from having to see a hip
Second, you’re not going to be running every day. Although some people love to get out there on a daily
basis and pound out 6 miles every day, you are not going to be one of those people.
In fact, you may be surprised to see how much time you get off. Most training schedules only have you
running 3 of the 7 days of the week.
This is done on purpose. As you’re increasing your mileage for the first time, your body needs rest days
to rebuild the muscles you tore down the day before.
Hence, you get days off between runs. This is the time you should be pounding down nutrients and
relaxing your running muscles so they can heal.
Third, rest days aren’t so restful are they? Many schedules encourage you to cross train on your rest
The idea is that running doesn’t build up all of the muscles in your legs equally. You have a host of
stabilizing muscles that get under worked, creating an imbalance in strength.
Your stabilizing muscles are the things that keep your body moving without injury. When your running
muscles become stronger than your stabilizers, you risk injury when your stabilizers finally tire out and
your thighs keep moving.
Cross training strengthens those stabilizers on your off
days. Cross training can include sprints, hikes, and playing
Take cross training days seriously. They may be the only
thing keeping you from a hip replacement surgeon at the
end of the day.
Fourth and finally, you’ll notice that you actually lower
your mileage the last few weeks before the race. You may
have thought that you’d be running 20 miles the Saturday before.
The truth is though, your training program wants you at the 20 mile mark 2-3 Saturdays before the race
and then you taper off. The reason for this is that you need to focus on healing during this time, not
Your legs will remember their strength when race day comes. For the last 2 weeks though, you’ll be
asked to take it easy (a mere 10-12 miles maximum on long runs).
Marathon training programs can sometimes seem a bit counterintuitive, even like they’re missing
something. Each suggestion has a reason though, even if the schedule does seem to be lacking.
Follow those suggestions to make sure you get through the race injury free. You’ll be glad you did when
you finally cross that finish line.