If on the day you are reading this article; the time left for the actual day of the Marathon is less than 3 months and you haven't been training already, do not participate in the marathon.

Do not get us wrong!

We want you to enjoy the sport and complete it - Most importantly we want you to respect the activity.

Participating in a Marathon requires a lot of courage, completing it will bring great pleasure and a sense of achievement; but trust us completing it without injury will make it a great memory for you & your near and dear ones.

What it Takes

Marathon is not something that can be done without proper preparation and training. As an orthopedic surgeon, I have seen many cases of injuries and complications that could have been avoided with better planning and guidance.

In this article, we will share some tips and advice on how to train for a marathon, both mentally and physically. Apart from having the perfect state of mind, it requires good physical fitness.

Note: Not Great, just Good physical fitness.

Physical Training

• The first step is to assess your current fitness level and set a realistic goal. You should have some experience with running before you decide to run a marathon. A good rule of thumb is to be able to run at least 10 km (6 miles) comfortably before you start your marathon training.

• You should also consult your doctor and get a physical examination to make sure you are healthy enough to run a marathon. Some people may have medical conditions or risk factors that make running a marathon unsafe or unsuitable for them.

• The next step is to choose a training program that suits your needs and abilities.

While we will give you tips on how one should train, and you may find hundreds of programs online, we advise you to join a program / group of runners in person (not online).

A typical training program should last for 20-24 weeks (5 to 6 months) and should have three main components:

- base building

- speed work, and

- tapering

• Base building is the phase where you gradually increase your weekly mileage and endurance.

You should run at a comfortable pace that allows you to hold a conversation without gasping for air. This will help you develop your aerobic capacity and strengthen your muscles, bones, and joints. You should also include some cross-training activities, such as cycling, swimming, or strength training, to improve your overall fitness and prevent overuse injuries.

A common mistake that many runners make is to run too fast or too far too soon, which can lead to burnout or injury. Think of base building as laying the foundation for your marathon success.

• Speed work is the phase where you add some faster-paced runs to improve your speed, power, and efficiency.

You should do one or two speed sessions per week (in addition to normal runs), such as intervals, tempo runs, or hill repeats. These are short bursts of running at a higher intensity than your normal pace, followed by recovery periods.

Speed work will help you improve your anaerobic capacity and lactate threshold, which are important factors for running faster and longer.

However, speed work also increases the stress on your body and requires more recovery time, so you should not do it too often or too close to your race day. Think of speed work as sharpening your edge for your marathon performance.

• Tapering is the phase where you reduce your mileage and intensity in the final weeks before your race day.

This will allow your body to rest and recover from the hard work you have done in the previous months. You should cut back your weekly mileage by about 15% to 20% each week until you reach about 70% of your peak mileage in the last week.

You should also reduce the duration and intensity of your speed sessions or eliminate them altogether. However, do not take a break from running!

Tapering will help you avoid overtraining and fatigue and prepare you for the optimal performance on your race day. Think of tapering as storing up your energy for your marathon challenge.

• Keep a basic time/ performance record of your training.

There are various complex record tables available to keep track, basic notes can help you ascertain if anything is off. In today's times, it is not a bad idea to use fancy watches like fitness trackers to keep accurate records and even suggest some improvement in training regime - but do not fuss over the data. The records are just to check how far behind you are from Eliud Kipchoge (FYI - he is the current world record holder for Men Marathon).

Mental Preparation:

We are orthopedic specialists; we can still say with full confidence that the most difficult part is to aspire, to commit to everyday training (we are certainly not talking about the way we make New Year resolutions!!). It requires strength to take that first step - every day.

Running a marathon is more of a mental challenge than a physical one. You need to have a strong motivation and a positive attitude to overcome the difficulties and obstacles that you may encounter along the way.

Here are some tips on how to train your mind for a marathon:

• Set a specific and realistic goal for your marathon.
Whether it is to finish the race, beat a personal record, or qualify for another race, having a clear goal will help you stay focused and motivated. Do not set your goals under peer pressure.

• Break down your goal into smaller and measurable sub-goals.
For example, if your goal is to finish the marathon in four hours, you can set sub-goals such as running a 10K in 50 minutes, a half marathon in 1:50, or a 20-mile run in 3:00. This will help you track your progress and celebrate your achievements. YES!! CELEBRATE - even small achievements need to be recognized.

• Visualize your success.
Imagine yourself crossing the finish line with a smile on your face and a medal around your neck. Feel the emotions of joy and satisfaction that you will experience. This will boost your confidence and enthusiasm. Trust me - I have won all the great marathons of the world in my dreams. I even have a trophy display counter in my dream home.

• Use positive affirmations.
Repeat phrases such as "I can do this", "I am strong", or "I am prepared" to yourself or out loud. This will reinforce your self-belief and reduce negative thoughts.

• Find a running friend or a group.
Having someone to train with can make your runs more fun and enjoyable. You can also motivate each other and share tips and advice. You can join a local running club or an online community of runners.

• Have fun.
Running a marathon is a serious endeavor, but it should also be an enjoyable one. Remember why you started running in the first place and what you love about it. Try to find joy in every run, whether it is the scenery, the music, the people, or the challenge itself.

Training Injury Prevention:

One of the most important aspects of marathon training is injury prevention.

Running a marathon puts a lot of stress on your body, especially on your feet, ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. Some of the most common injuries that marathon runners face are blisters, chafing, shin splints, runner's knee, iliotibial band syndrome (ITBS), plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, stress fractures, muscle cramps, dehydration, heat stroke, hypothermia, and hyponatremia (low sodium levels).

If you are discouraged by the list, you still need to mentally prepare for the activity. These are injuries that are avoidable/treatable and are not big enough to stop you from running.

To prevent these injuries, you should follow some basic guidelines:

• Wear proper running shoes that fit well and provide adequate cushioning and support. Replace them when they show signs of wear. Read this article on how to choose footwear for a marathon.

• Wear comfortable running clothes that are breathable and moisture-wicking.

• Warm up before each run with some dynamic stretches and light jogging.

• Cool down after each run with some static stretches and gentle walking.

• Follow the 10% rule: do not increase your weekly mileage or intensity by more than 10% per week.

• Vary your running surfaces and routes to avoid repetitive stress on the same muscles and joints.

• Hydrate well before, during, and after each run. Drink water according to your thirst and sweat rate.

• Eat a balanced diet that provides enough carbohydrates, protein, fat, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

  • - Carbohydrates are your main source of energy for running, so you should consume about 60% to 70% of your daily calories from carbs.
  • - Protein helps with muscle repair and recovery, so you should consume about 15% to 20% of your daily calories from protein. .
  • - Fat provides essential fatty acids and helps with hormone production and absorption of fat-soluble vitamins, so you should consume about 20% to 25% of your daily calories from fat.
  • - Vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants help with immune function and prevent oxidative stress, so you should eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • - Listen to your body and take a rest day when needed. Do not run through pain or discomfort. Seek medical attention if you have any signs of injury or illness.
  • - Get enough sleep and rest. Sleep is vital for muscle recovery and mental health. Aim for at least seven to nine hours of quality sleep per night. Try to maintain a regular sleep schedule and avoid napping during the day.

Running a marathon is one of the most rewarding experiences that you can have as a runner. It requires dedication, discipline, and determination, but it also brings you joy, satisfaction, and pride. By following these tips and advice, you can train for a marathon safely and effectively, and achieve your goal on the big day.

I hope this article has been helpful to you. If you have any questions or comments, please contact us. Happy running!