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Marathon Training FAQ

Posted November 15, 2022 by Nilesh Shah, M.D.

Women running to the end of a finish line

Q: What should I be doing to avoid injury during training?
A: Proper warm-up and cool-down techniques should be utilized on days you’ll be running. This can include any or all of the following: adequate sleep, regular stretching routine, foam-roll before/after run, dynamic warm-up and active cool down.

Q: What are the best foods to eat during my training plan? As I get closer to race day?
A: The best plan to follow for race preparation is a well balanced diet. Carbohydrates, protein and fat all play an important role in fueling you through a long race - you will want to consume a diet balanced in all three. Complex carbohydrates and good fats will be your long-term energy source for the event, but replenishing the simple sugars/carbohydrate along the way will help your short-term energy.

Q: Foods to avoid?
A: Really the only foods to avoid would be those foods that are new to your system and/or training regimen. Eating something new the night before or on race day is not advised. This will be something you can modify throughout your training, once you find what works for you – stick with it.

Q: At what point do I know I’m ready for race day?
A: Your training will guide the way. If you can train for more than what the actual event will be, you will know you are ready. Race day brings about some increased emotions with the excitement of several thousand people, loud music, and a fun atmosphere. It can be detrimental to your performance if you allow yourself to get overly excited. Just put in the work during your training and stick to your plan.

Q: What about my shoes? Should I run the race in the ones I train in? Buy new?
A: It is not advised to run a race in a new pair of shoes. The shoes you’re training in should be used on race day also. An ideal technique is to have two pairs of the same shoe and alternate pairs you wear during training runs.

Q: If this is my first marathon, what is a good time to finish in?
A: Placing a time goal for a race is a very individualized task. Everyone has different goals, motivations, ability to train, etc. A target finish time may be able to be established as you get close to the race and have an idea of what your average pace may be. Completing a marathon in general is an admirable task, so if you cross the finish line – call it a win!

Q: How does my sleep impact my training?
A: Sleeping approximately 7-8 hours per night is ideal for the average adult. Running performance may be increased, as well as susceptibility to injury may be decreased with a regular, adequate sleep regimen.

Q: Should I train with a friend?
A: Training with a friend can certainly bring benefits to your training. Accountability is established anytime you bring another individual into your program. If you feel you may have trouble completing your training regimen, a friend can help you stick to it. This also is a great opportunity to get to know someone better throughout the training process.

Q: How can I keep my mind focused during training and the race?
A: Everyone has a different approach to this question – some may like to “zone out” and just listen to music as they run. Others may participate in what is called “self talk” to motivate themselves through the tough miles. Watching people’s running motion who are in front of you is another technique that may work for you. It’s advised to try several different methods and find out what you like best.


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