For many people, running a marathon is the achievement of a lifelong goal, whereas, for others, it will be just another notch on their belt.However, for many, the objective will be just to finish. So whatever your level of experience, here are some tips:

1. Incorporate strength training into your program. I love Hindu squats and rapid fire stationary lunges,changing your stance with each explosive lunge. Sets of 30 reps, 3-5 sets, maybe twice a week. Also don’t neglect your ‘core’. Regular abdominal work, preferably exercises that don’t involve spinal flexion.

2. Include speed training in your mileage.Sprinting for time, rather than distance is best. For example,15 seconds sprint, followed by 30 seconds very slow jogging recovery. Adjust these figures as necessary -you might need a lot more rest between sets initially, and you make progress in the following ways :

–increasing the number of sprints in a workout
–increasing the number of seconds that you sprint
–decreasing recovery time between sprints

3. employ periodization principles in your weekly workouts.In other words, don’t go 100% two days in a row. For example,if you go 90-100% today, go 60% tomorrow, which would imply that you omit any sprint work, and don’t push yourself. A 60% day is your EASY day. 75-85% is MEDIUM, and anything over that is HARD. The rule is never do two consecutive hard days. And this brings me to tip number 4

4. DON’T over-train!! Training too hard, too often, stresses muscles and joints that will soon be injured, and when that happens, all training comes to a halt. So although you should leave your comfort zone on a regular basis, always train smart!

5. Ensure you have completed a 30km distance prior to the marathon attempt (42.2km). This will give you great confidence, and a fair idea of how you will perform on the day. Also, a few half marathons should have been completed. With these distances, you will become accustomed to the ‘pain zone’, and develop the necessary physical and mental toughness to soldier on when the going gets tough.

6. Early to bed, early to rise – plenty of sleep and rest to aid recovery.

7. Good nutrition – fuel your body to maximize recovery and performance.

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