Training for a Half or Full Marathon

Boston marathon 1A college student juggles hundreds of obligations throughout the semester.  With classes, homework, studying, clubs and sororities or fraternities, it can seem like you hardly have time to eat, let alone sleep. Now imagine training for a half or full marathon. Impossible you think? While training for one of these strenuous races certainly requires planning, effort, and special time management, it is quite possible to train for a half or full marathon during the school year.

How in the world can you begin to train for a race that requires so much time and dedication? Part of your answer lies in exquisite time management and planning. The first step to properly train is to find a training plan. Readily available on the Internet, the majority of them are credible. These training plans vary from beginner, moderate to advanced running. Once you pick a proper training plan, time management becomes really important. Most training plans dedicate around four days of easy to moderate running, one long run, one day of cross training and one rest day. While they dedicate specific days for each of these tasks, you can switch up the days based on your schedule, as long as you run the correct mileage per week.  The only exception is that, it is vital to take the rest day after your long run day. Tailoring the training plan based on your schedule will allow you to balance your other obligations while still getting your runs in.

Next, training for a half or full marathon requires fueling adequately. Nutrition during training is very important and a key to successful runs. For example, eating protein no later than one hour after running can really diminish soreness the next day and makes for better overall training. After a run, try eating a Greek Yogurt with granola or whip up a smoothie and add protein powder to get the protein your body needed for repair. Additionally, it can be a good idea to eat a meal heavy on carbs the night before a long run. No need to eat four helpings of pasta, but eating slightly more carbs the night prior to a long run will nourish your body with the energy it needs. As always, make sure to eat plenty of vegetables and fruits throughout the day to stay alert and energized. It will make a huge difference in your runs. Possibly most importantly, stay hydrated. Drinking enough water throughout the day is a key aspect of running. Without proper hydration, your training runs will suffer along with your body.

Lastly, training for a half or full marathon should be fun! Running with a friend or in a group really enhances runs. Whether you like to have full-fledged conversations or merely enjoy the presence of someone running next to you, companionship can be a really fun aspect of running. These comrades know what you’re going through and can encourage and uplift you during struggles. Sometimes, you might be training for a common race, and this holds you accountable for your training plan and urges you to complete your goals. Use these friends or groups to push yourself further than you thought possible.

Running a half or full marathon is certainly not easy, and training for one can be difficult, but definitely possible. If you plan your runs weeks ahead of time, get enough sleep, and fuel properly, your training will seem like a breeze. Not only is it possible to train for one of these insane races, it can also be extremely fun and fulfilling.

Photo Credit: Melissa Heller, Jennifer Collins


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