The marathon long run is an ambitious thing to take on, but those who set their eyes on it are quite ambitious and ready to succeed.
In my opinion it is the most important marathon training workout in your marathon training schedule. The endurance and mental power you get from these runs will greatly boost your marathon confidence and chances to succeed.
You will need the following eight tips to make it through training and successfully through your first marathon race.
Tip 1: Compete with yourself
It’s always fun to look at the times of others who have whizzed through and won marathon races, but you should resist comparing your own times to theirs.
You are competing with yourself and no one else. That is where your mindset should be if this is your very first time preparing for the marathon long run pace.
When you go out on your weekly long runs as part of your marathon training, make it a competition with yourself. You may not be able to beat seasoned marathon runners just yet, but you can beat yourself and see your times progress.
Tip 2: Keep your expectations realistic
You aren’t going to take off in this first marathon and win first place. That just doesn’t happen for most long distance runners. Keep your expectations realistic and set goals that you can actually achieve.
For instance, many runners go into their first marathon with the simple goal of making it to the end. If they train properly, it is something they can really achieve and that will give them freedom to set their expectations a bit higher the next time around.
If your goal is to win or beat the time of some professional race, you are going to get discouraged when your training long run times fall short of that goal. Don’t do that to yourself and just keep it real right from the start.
Know your goals and know that you actually have a chance of achieving them.
Tip 3: Secure a safe indoor place to train
The number one reason many people stop training for a marathon long run is the weather. They are unable to get outdoors for their training sessions so they start to push them back until they are so far off schedule they will never be prepared for the big event. Then they quit or say they will try again next year.
Don’t let this happen to you! Plan for the weather right from day one. There may be days that are too hot to run outside safely, so don’t just assume because it is summertime you will be safe.
Set up a treadmill inside that can handle intense runs or plan to go to the local YMCA or a gym when you can’t run outdoors.
Tip 4: Never skip your weekly long run
The long runs have to occur every week and they cannot be skipped no matter what. Ok, if you are sick you shouldn’t run.
These runs are what actually train your body to store up the glucose needed to accomplish a marathon long run schedule.
If you aren’t doing the long runs consistently prepare for a huge shock to your system when you set out to actually run the marathon.
Tip 5: Learn about the marathon wall
If you don’t know what the marathon wall is, look it up and learn about it today. Every long distance runner needs to know how to avoid this and what to do if it hits them toward the end of a long race or while out for a marathon long run during training.
Tip 6: Pump up your intake of water
Water is essential to the long distance runner. The moment you decide you want to do the marathon long run is the moment you should start pumping your body with water. This is important all the time, not just before, during and after a long run.
Tip 7: Don’t go too fast too soon
Find a good marathon long run training plan and stick with it. If you push your body too hard too fast you will burn out or end up with an overuse injury to your muscles. Stick to the plan and you will be ready for the marathon long run when the big day rolls around.
Tip 8: Run some of your long runs at marathon pace
Make sure you are pumping your body up to that planned marathon pace during some of your long runs, especially as you get closer to race day. This will help you learn how the pace feels so it is easier to track and maintain during the actual race.