If you started this year with a resolution to run your first marathon then here is a plan on how you can get off the couch and reach the finish line, writes Nandini Reddy

With so many friends around you running marathons, it is quite natural that you would also be bitten by the bug to run your first marathon. To begin with let us start with a half marathon and work towards finishing the 21 km mark before heading off to the 42 km chequered flag.

So how from the point you get off your couch to the crossing the finish line you wonder? Well if you train and eat in a committed fashion then you should be able to run your first half marathon in 14 weeks. It doesn’t really matter if you are new to running or you are coming back after a long break, if you have the will to stick to a training programme then you will be race-ready within a few weeks.

Getting started

Firstly, try and work out a realistic plan. You can schedule yourself to running for 4 days a week. You can start by walking first and then slowly graduate to jogging, interval training and then full-fledged running. The idea is to ease your body and mind into a training schedule that will keep you happy and not too fatigued. The idea is to build your endurance in the first 4 weeks and over-stress your body. The run/walk strategy is totally acceptable in the first few weeks. Don’t beat yourself up. Get into the mindset that you are here to finish the race and not compete for a goal time. It is your first marathon so finishing a race is vital.

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Training Plans

The key to any good training is to mix-up your workouts and ensure that you stay interested and the schedule doesn’t become monotonous. You can add some strength training and cross-training also to help develop your muscles. Here are a few suggestions :

Run/Walk: This is a form of interval training where you run for 1 minute and walk for another minute. This will help you run longer. As you progress you can decrease the walking interval timing and increase the running interval timing.

Brisk Walks: In the beginning of your training programme keep a day for just brisk walking. This helps improve your fitness levels. It also boosts confidence because you won’t feel out of breath during these training days.

Cross-Training: It is vital to impact two days of cross-training. You can choose between cycling, swimming , yoga or martial arts. The idea is to build your muscles and prevent injuries from excessive stress on your body due to running. You can add body weight training to your routine as well with squats, lunges, push-ups, planks and dead-lifts.

Tempo Runs: These runs are important to build your speed. You should run these at a harder pace than normal. The idea is to push your pace a bit higher than last week. When you do your tempo runs, start off at a comfortable pace, then build up to a higher pace and then cool down with a kilometre of a running at a slow pace.

Sample Plan

Here is a suggested sample plan on how you can build up your distances for running every week.

Week 1: Try the run/walk – 3 kms

Week 2: Run/Walk – 3 kms with the addition of Cross Training

Week 3: Run/Walk or Brisk Walk – 5 kms with the addition of Body weight training

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Week 4: Tempo Run – 3 – 5 kms

Week 5: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with a 40 min Cross Training session once a week

Week 6: Tempo Run 5- 8 kms with 30 min body weight training session once a week

Week 7: Run/Walk or Brisk walk – 8 kms and Tempo Run – 5 Kms with 40 mins of Cross training/ week

Week 8: Run/Walk – 12 kms and Tempo Run – 8 kms with 40 mins of body weight training/week

Week 9: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training/ week

Week 10: Tempo Run – 15 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training/ week

Week 11: Tempo Run – 16 kms and Run/ Walk – 18 kms

Week 12: Cross Training – 45 minutes and Run/Walk – 18 kms

Week 13: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of body weight training

Week 14: Tempo Run – 20 kms with 45 minutes of Cross Training

The training plans every week will have to include 2 days of rest.

This is just a suggestion on what you can follow. But remember that you need to listen to your body. If something hurts and doesn’t feel right you need to learn to stop, see a doctor or a coach. The idea is to train to make your body feel better and not worse.

Enjoy your training runs and look forward to the exhilaration of crossing the finish line.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 

An irregular runner who has run in dry, wet, high altitude and humid conditions. Loves to write a little more than run so now is the managing editor of Finisher Magazine.

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