Marathon running is gaining popularity – being able to run a massive 26 miles is no mean feat. Marathon finishers are like a sorority club – almost every runner dreams of joining them at some point. If you’re a runner and have been tinkering with the idea of enrolling yourself in the next marathon, then this article should be of help!
Preparing for a marathon involves careful planning and dedication. There are a lot of marathon plans available on the internet. While every plan you’ll find will tell you to run, a lot (duh!), you must consider a more holistic approach to training for marathon.
You need your body trained in a specific way to be able to pull off 26 odd miles! That would naturally involve training your muscles and running a lot. What a lot of people seem to miss out on is that (a) Running is a very strenuous activity for the joints and (b) Some muscles don’t get engaged a lot – leading to instability and increased chances of injury.
You should, therefore, consider a complete training program, with a major focus on marathon running but also working on and building the supporting muscles. Adding a mix of workouts also keeps boredom away – a big reason why people stop their training plans.
Here are some exercises to include in your marathon training plan:
Cycling is a great exercise to include in your marathon training program. It works on the lower body similar to running but is far lower on the impact on your joints. It works your hips, core and leg muscles; and can be a great way to work on your endurance.
If you don’t own a cycle, you could always head to a gym that has spinning facilities. Control on the resistance and comfort of an AC gym does have its benefits!
Adding swimming to your marathon training schedule has a host of benefits. A very low impact workout, a good 45-60 min swimming session can leave you aching in muscles you didn’t know existed. It’s a complete body workout, working on your core, legs and upper body. The synchronization required to swim effectively can be extremely beneficial for your body’s running form.
Some runners also use swimming to rehabilitate after an injury. It has less than 80% impact than that of running – strengthening joints without the ache.
Flexibility of your body plays a big role in your overall running. The more flexible you are, the lower are your chances of picking up injuries. There is no better way to incorporate flexibility exercises in your routine than Yoga.
An hour of Yoga, twice a week, will set you up nicely. You’ll beat the muscle soreness that comes from training hard and keep your body nimble enough. Doing Yoga regularly can also shave off a few seconds from your running time!
Since running is a monotonous and linear exercise which mostly involves our leg muscles, it can create a disbalance in the body. And we all know that imbalance is a major cause of injuries. Including a functional training session like Crossfit can help you engage muscles that go un-worked during your runs. Functional exercises like Crossfit mimic actual body movements, helping you perform daily tasks with a lot of ease. It is also greatly beneficial for those slow twitch muscles that help you run long and far!
Utilising your entire body will also help you lose overall body fat. This will translate to an increase in stamina and a better, faster, longer run.
Adding strength training to your marathon training program will also help you lose the extra body fat and build muscles. Stronger your muscles, the better you can run. And more efficiently.
Incorporating exercises like squats, leg hops and crunches help in preventing lower body injuries and improve performance. Some exercises can help you work on your knee and hips – two of the most common problem areas.
At the end of the day, your training plan should be focussed on helping you strengthen your weak areas and increase your overall running capacity. Which is why it’s a good idea to mix and match your training program keeping long distance running as the base. For example, keep two days in a week for cross-functional training and other 4 (or 5) days for running and rest. Include yoga, cycling, functional training – whatever you think will work your weak points and give your marathon training plan a massive boost!
How do you incorporate all this, without joining 10 different facilities and shelling a huge amount? The answer is Fitato – one membership that gives you access to various gyms and fitness studios in your city. You can go swimming, spinning or do a hard session of crossfit, all through one Fitato app membership. Check out the app here – Android | iOS