How to Train for a Marathon Without Hating Your Life

Updated 04/24/17
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Running one mile is daunting, let alone 26.2, but nevertheless, that is the distance of a marathon. And, believe it or not, hundreds of thousands of people run that distance in one day's time every single year. Insanely impressed by this physical feat, we reached out to a couple of running experts to learn just what they do when training for a marathon.

Whether you're considering signing up for a marathon or are currently training for one, running coach Kyle Kranz and Jessica Mehta, a personal trainer, registered yoga teacher, and the founder of Get it Ohm!, have given us some training tips to get you ready for the big day. From a plan of action to their thoughts on carbo-loading, Kranz's and Mehta's pointers will help you tackle those 26.2 miles easily. Okay, maybe not easily, but at least you will be prepared, right?

For five tips on how to train for a marathon, keep reading.

1. Make a Plan

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When starting your marathon plan, Mehta suggests signing up for a race that is at least six months away, as the more time you have to train, the less likely you are to experience an injury. Once you've decided on the race, Kranz and Mehta agree that you should make a detailed workout schedule.

While Kranz recommends hiring a running coach to prescribe runs, stretching, and strength work personalized to your skill level, Mehta suggests that if you plan accordingly, it can be done on your own. Meaning that if you train for six months following a plan that consists of varying workouts (strength and endurance training) nearly every day of the week, you should be prepared for a marathon. Whichever route you choose, both Kranz and Mehta make it clear that you should address your strengths and weaknesses and create a clear plan to be prepared before the big race.

2. Work Out

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Once you have a plan in place, then comes the hard work and dedication necessary to run a marathon. Mehta recommends running four days per week, with each run varying in distance from 3 to 20 miles. On the other days of the week, she suggests interval strength training, yoga, and pilates. And, while working out is well and good, Mehta says to taper workouts a few weeks prior to the big race to minimize fatigue.

3. Take Rest Days

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According to Kranz, the hours when you are not working out are just as important as the actual workout itself (if not more so). He recommends staying away from stress as much as possible, getting eight hours of sleep at night, and making sure to take rest days in between workouts, as rest is necessary to increase strength.

4. Adjust Your Diet

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While training for a marathon, it is essential to listen to your body and feed it what it needs. While both Mehta and Kranz recommend high-protein diets (Kranz suggests 100 grams of protein per day), the amount of protein you need is subjective to your personal training plan.

And, as for carbo-loading before the big race, Kranz recommends it. He says that a high-carb meal can be beneficial the day before a big run, as it will supersaturate your muscles with extra stored carbohydrates giving you increased energy throughout the race. So don't feel guilty, go ahead, and fuel up before the big day.

5. Pace Yourself

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According to Kranz, the most important part of training for a marathon is the five p's: Proper Pacing Prevents Poor Performance. No matter how fit you are, Kranz says running fast too early in the race is disastrous. He recommends breaking the race into thirds, starting the first third of the race easy, the second a bit harder, and the third sped up. In order to keep this controlled, Kranz says not to get stuck on time, but rather to focus on feeling well and finishing the race strong.

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