Preparing for a marathon requires dedication, discipline, and strategic planning. As a 3x marathon finisher, I’ve trained through both winter and summer for finish line goals. Summer is my favorite season to marathon train mainly because I would rather ski all winter long. By utilizing the long days and favorable weather conditions (this week exlcuded), you can optimize your training and set yourself up for success on race day. These are my favorite tips to help you train effectively and stay motivated during the summer months leading up to your fall marathon.
Set Realistic Goals
Before diving into your training program, it's crucial to set realistic goals that align with your current fitness level and previous running experience. Assess where you are right now, personal commitments like vacations, family and work, and potential limitations. Setting achievable goals will keep you motivated and prevent unnecessary stress or injuries during training.
Plan Your Training Schedule
Creating a well-structured training schedule is key to progressing steadily and avoiding burnout. Start by determining the number of weeks you have until your marathon and divide your training into phases, including base-building, speed work, long runs, and tapering. Then determine how many days per week you want to run, other cross-training activities you enjoy, set a long run day and a rest day. Gradually increase your mileage and incorporate different types of runs, such as tempo runs, intervals, and hill repeats, to improve your speed, endurance, and overall fitness.
Hydrate and Beat the Heat
Summer training can be challenging due to high temperatures and humidity. Hydration is crucial to prevent dehydration and maintain performance. Start each run well-hydrated (I drink electroyles first thing in the morning to make us for everything I sweat out overnight), and bring water or sports drinks for longer training sessions. Plan your runs during cooler parts of the day, such as early mornings or evenings, and seek shade whenever possible. Dress in moisture-wicking clothing and protect yourself from the sun with sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses.
Cross-Train and Strength Train
Incorporating cross-training and strength training into your routine can enhance your overall performance and reduce the risk of injuries. Engage in activities like swimming, cycling, or yoga to give your body a break from running while maintaining cardiovascular fitness. Additionally, focus on strength training exercises that target your core, legs, and hips to improve stability, muscular endurance, and running economy. My general rule of thumb is 2 strength training sessions per week, 2 yoga sessions per week and 2 cross-training sessions per week. Notice the theme….
Listen to Your Body
One of the most important aspects of marathon training is listening to your body and allowing time for rest and recovery. Overtraining can lead to injuries and burnout, hindering your progress. Incorporate rest days into your schedule and prioritize quality sleep to promote muscle repair and mental rejuvenation. If you experience persistent pain or signs of overuse, don't hesitate to consult a healthcare professional for guidance. Marathon training does not equal pain.
Training for a fall marathon during the summer requires careful planning, dedication, and self-care. By setting realistic goals, planning your training schedule, staying hydrated, cross-training, and listening to your body, you can optimize your training and set yourself up for a successful marathon. Remember to enjoy the process and celebrate small victories along the way. With determination and consistent effort, you'll be well-prepared to conquer the challenges of your fall marathon and achieve your goals. Good luck!
P.S. Check out this article on from The New York Times on preparing for fall marathons!