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Preparing for and running your very first marathon

Running a Marathon, whether for the first time or the hundredth time, is always a special experience. Few runners today can complete the 42.195 km without thorough preparation beforehand. We will go into a few basic things.

Over the past two decades, the marathon distance has been democratized. Once reserved for a certain elite, it now attracts more and more novice runners. It's important to remember, however, that running 42.195 km can't be improvised.

How do you know if you can run a marathon?

The prerequisites

Before embarking on your marathon adventure, it's important to make sure you're :

  • In good physical condition (by consulting your doctor);

  • Able to run between 20 and 40 kilometers a week, and have been doing so for at least 1 year;

  • Aware of your running pace;

  • Able to run a half-marathon;

To achieve this, we strongly recommend that you start by training to run shorter distances, such as 10 km, and then consider a half-marathon before moving on to the marathon stage.

Above all, keep your weekly mileage progressive: this will reduce the risk of injury.

How do you prepare for a marathon as a beginner?

How long does it take to prepare for a marathon?

The first thing you need to know is how long you need to prepare.

To ensure your preparation is successful, or at least enables you to arrive in good shape on D-day, you need to allow between 12 and 14 weeks of preparation before your marathon.

Define your marathon pace

Next, to adapt your preparation, you need to define your marathon pace and your goal.

Bear in mind that if you're new to the event, your only goal is to finish the race! Passing under the finish banner will be your victory, the only one worth having. Nothing must compromise it. Running a marathon is always - always! - (re)learning humility.

What should guide you most of all is your body! To finish your marathon in optimum condition, find a pace that keeps you between 75% and 80% of your VMA and 80% to 85% of your FCMax.

What training plan for a marathon?

If you're new to running, don't expect to be running a marathon in a few weeks' time. Your first 42.195 km experience should be planned several months in advance.

The aim of your marathon preparation is to increase your training volume and intensity accordingly. It's this aspect that will enable you to be ready on D-day and avoid injury!

So, even if they're never a bad idea, weekend jogs at a "comfort" pace won't be enough to prepare you properly for your marathon...

To do so, it's important to vary the sessions in your program.

There are two ways of doing this:

The fundamental endurance session prepares the body for longer and longer efforts. It's during these sessions that you need to test the energy gels or sports drinks you'll be using during the marathon.

The split session (on the track or in the open air) works on more demanding cardiovascular intensity zones to develop "motor" power and improve running technique.

You can then plan a total of three or even four training sessions per week (not forgetting muscle strengthening to prevent injury).

What distance should I cover to prepare for a marathon?

Each future marathon has his or her own preparation. So it's difficult to give you a precise number of kilometers to cover in preparation for your marathon. It all depends on your objective, fitness level, running speed...

Just remember that, unless it's accumulated over the course of the week, you should never have run a marathon, i.e. 42 km, before the day of your race.

How do I know if I'm ready for a marathon?

If you've followed your preparation to the letter (at least as closely as possible), if you've taken care of your lifestyle (diet, hydration, sleep, stress levels...), if you have no injuries or health problems and, above all, if you're still motivated by the desire to take on the marathon challenge, then you're ready!

Of course, if you have any doubts about your fitness level or your health, don't forget to seek medical advice.

Any last words of advice for the road?

Don't go too fast! You've been preparing for the big day for several weeks now, and now you're there, and so is your excitement! Galvanized by the atmosphere, the other runners, etc., it's possible that you'll feel like you're growing wings. But it's important that you stick to your marathon pace if you don't want to hit the 30ᵉ kilometer wall...

Consequently, take it easy, run steadily and in a controlled manner, feeling as though you can accelerate at any moment. And when your legs get heavy, you can walk to avoid cramps. And don't forget to refuel sufficiently!



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