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Essential Tips for Marathon Training

Posted July 17, 2023 in Dr. Ciment, Running

By Dr. Ethan Ciment

3 Minute Read:

Marathon runners

Regardless of whether this is your first or your fifteenth marathon, embarking on the journey of training for a marathon is both an exhilarating and challenging endeavor.  Proper training is vital to ensure you reach the finish line healthy and injury-free for both seasoned runners and novices alike. As a doctor who has been treating marathoners for two decades, I have had the privilege of working with countless athletes and witnessing their remarkable achievements. As we are now officially at the beginning of Marathon training season, I want to share some crucial tips to help you train effectively and minimize the risk of injuries during your marathon training.

One of the most common mistakes novice runners make is attempting to push their limits too quickly. Gradual progression is the key to success. Starting with a solid base of regular running before diving into a marathon training program is really the best way to approach this. Build up your mileage slowly and consistently, allowing your body time to adapt and strengthen. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is marathon endurance.

A well-structured training plan is fundamental for marathon success. Seek guidance from a running coach, a running PT, a sports medicine doctor, or from a trusted experienced runner to help you create a personalized plan that aligns with your fitness level and goals. A training plan should include a balance of endurance runs, speed work, cross-training, rest days, and strength training. The program should gradually increase in intensity and distance, while also incorporating recovery periods to prevent overuse injuries.

Paying attention to your body is crucial throughout your training. Pushing through pain or ignoring warning signs can lead to serious injuries. It is critically important to be able to distinguish between the discomfort of pushing your limits and the pain of an impending injury. If you experience persistent pain, swelling, or any unusual symptoms, consult with a sports medicine professional promptly. Early intervention can often prevent minor issues from escalating into major setbacks.

While running forms the backbone of marathon training, incorporating cross-training and strength training into your routine is equally important. Cross-training activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga can help improve cardiovascular fitness, provide active recovery, and reduce the risk of overuse injuries. Strength training, especially focusing on the core, hips, glutes, and legs, will enhance your running mechanics and muscular endurance, further reducing the risk of injuries. It’s a well-established fact that runners who cross train experience lower rates of running injuries.

Proper nutrition and hydration are vital for optimal performance and recovery. Fueling your body with a well-balanced diet, rich in complex carbohydrates, lean proteins, and healthy fats. It’s also vital to ensure you consume enough calories to support your training demands. Staying well-hydrated throughout the day, and especially during your runs, by drinking water or electrolyte-rich fluids is key, especially in the increasingly hot and humid summer months. 

Many runners underestimate the importance of rest and recovery in their training. Our bodies need time to repair and rebuild after intense workouts. Incorporating regular rest days into your training plan is non-negotiable. Rest days prevent overtraining and burnout. Recovery techniques such as foam rolling, stretching, and massage therapy are also really important as they can help to alleviate muscle soreness and promote flexibility. Prioritizing quality sleep is also vital as it plays a crucial role in performance, immune function, and injury prevention.

Training for a marathon is an all-encompassing undertaking that requires unwavering dedication, discipline, and a focus on both a physical and mental level. By following these essential tips and seeking guidance from professionals, you can optimize your training experience and minimize the risk of injuries. Seasoned marathoners of all ages and backgrounds have always told me that the journey towards the marathon finish line is just as important as getting to the destination. 

Here’s to a successful and injury-free training season. Good luck and I hope you thoroughly enjoy your marathon training journey!

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