Remember the glow of pride you felt after achieving a major breakthrough? The ecstasy of accomplishing the seemingly impossible is what makes many runners, both able-bodied and those with disabilities, continually challenge themselves with the daunting marathon. While completing these runs can be strenuous, overcoming the myriad of physical and mental roadblocks makes the sport an extremely rewarding one.
But that’s not all; be it a hand-cycling or a running event, preparing and taking part in marathons offer plenty of benefits, from developing mental stamina to boosting your immune system.
If you are keen on making your first foray into marathons, make sure that your training sessions are well paced-out, for they are absolutely essential in helping you reach your full potential. Here are some tips on how you can prepare:
If you are not a seasoned athlete, set manageable goals for your training sessions, instead of taking drastic steps and attempting the marathon distance from the get-go. This is especially important if you have been inactive for some time.
For instance, start with a simple schedule of alternating between running and walking: run for two minutes, walk for one, and then run for two again. This breaks the training down to short, attainable goals, while minimising the tendency to give up from frustration.
Another tip is to gradually work your way up to the marathon length. Slowly increase your running distance by no more than 10 percent every week.
Devote time to strength and core training
In order to pass through the finish line with minimal injury, strength training is a necessity. Wheelchair racers, in particular, rely on their arms and shoulders during marathons, so achieving muscular balance at the shoulders and upper limbs are key to minimising injury and achieving a good performance. Take a look at how you can carry out some simple strength training exercises in this article
Core training, on the other hand, involves working on your abs, hamstrings, hips, glutes, lower back and oblique muscles. This is especially relevant for knee amputees who rely on prosthetic legs to do their runs, as their hips and lower back are often under a lot of strain. Examples of core training exercises include side bends, crunches, lower and upper back exercises, and if possible, lower body exercises such as squats or leg curls.
All these workouts can be done after your training runs, and can serve as a great way to cool down after an exhausting cardio session.
Stick to a schedule
Track your goals and progress by planning and following a training schedule, which can help keep you motivated and makes sure you avoid injury from overexertion. Schedule a time for workouts and stick to it -- no more, no less. Your training should be purposeful and progressive, and you should see improvements over time.
Have plenty of rest
Getting sufficient rest is critical to any training programme, because rest periods allow your muscles to regenerate and get stronger. If you are concerned that taking a few days off will cause you to lose the progress you’ve made over the past few weeks, don’t fret -- research has shown that you can take up to 10 days of rest without the loss of too much fitness. Similar to how one needs to unwind after an especially draining day of work, your body needs time to recover from the training you’ve put it through.
Last but not least, the best way to stay on your training path is getting support from your family and friends. You should also consult your physiotherapist before starting on any new exercise regime.