To prepare for a marathon, it’s vital to build up endurance and optimise your breathing. This can be accomplished by working out on fitness equipment such as treadmills, ellipticals and other devices dedicated to cardio training. Some coaches even recommend marathon prep that takes place exclusively in the gym!
Preparing according to your level: from 2 months to 1 year
Barring a significant health problem, anyone can run a marathon. It just takes a lot of motivation and proper preparation. And you must adhere to a programme that is adapted to your starting level.
This means that for a non-athletic person, or for someone who hasn’t been physically active for a while, training should be very progressive. Set realistic goals. For example, choose a marathon a year in advance, so you can spread out your training over 12 months.
Someone who is already running regularly and has completed shorter distance races (semi-marathons for example) can prepare in as little as 2 months.
First step: talk to your doctor
Whatever your level, if your goal is to run a marathon, you should start by getting a medical checkup. Your doctor can verify that there is no pre-existing condition that would preclude you from successfully completing an extended period of intense physical training. If necessary, you might be asked to undergo an electrocardiogram. With the doctor’s sign-off, you can run with peace of mind.
Fitness machines: effective training allies
When we hear the words “training for a marathon,” we immediately picture lots and lots of running. But running every day isn’t the best way to get ready for a 42 km race. Just like training for any important sporting event, you also have to build muscle and work your cardio (which can be done on an elliptical, rowing machine, exercise bike, treadmill, etc.) through traditional and interval training. This helps you to improve your stamina, so you’ll be up to the task of the long race.
Some coaches even propose a training programme that takes place entirely in a gym or at home, on home training devices, without any outdoor running. Many athletes who have tested this training style have found it proved effective for them, while others say it didn’t enable them to finish the marathon. We believe that a mix of indoor and outdoor sessions is ideal. It’s up to you to figure out what works best for you.
An organised plan
No matter what method of training you pursue, you need to have a well thought out plan, and you need to stick to it.
- Build up your endurance: gradually lengthen the distance, duration and intensity of your cardio exercises.
- Several training sessions per week, remembering the importance of taking a day off each week.
- Ideally, schedule a semi-marathon midway through training to gauge your level of readiness.
- Reducing your training regimen by half two weeks before your marathon.
- One week before your race, lower the intensity of your workouts, so you’re feeling fresh on the day of the race.
Did you finish your marathon? Way to go! You should be proud to be among those who have accomplished this feat. Did your body give out before the finish line? Don’t give up. Try again. Whatever the result, take a few days off to let your body recover before smoothly transitioning back into training mode.
Start with home training machines – you’ll find the one you need by NordicTrack – before you start jogging, and then racing once again.