Are you thinking about running a marathon but not sure how long you'll need to train for it? We caught up with Health Expert, Erica Tillinghast, Global Education Manager at Precor and certified personal trainer for answers.
WomensForum: How long do you minimally need to train for a marathon?
Erica: It depends on an individual’s fitness level and injury history. Healthy individuals looking to take on the marathon should anticipate a 6 month training plan to allow their bodies to gradually adapt to the stress of running. Increasing mileage in a structured way will reduce the risk of injury and progressively introduce runners to the mental and physical demands of distance running. New runners may benefit from joining a running group to get through those long runs!
WomensForum: But if you can already run a 5k... can you run a marathon?
Erica: If you’re healthy, injury free, and able to commit the time to training for a marathon, the answer for most runners is yes! Marathon runners will slow their pace from their 5k, and need to dedicate a lot more time to conditioning. However, active runners typically have a shorter ramp up time for preparing for a marathon, typically in the 12-16 week range.
WomensForum: Should your diet change when you are training for a marathon?
Erica: Endurance athletes need to increase their carbohydrate intake to increase their glycogen stores. Distance athletes rely primarily on glycogen and fat to provide energy, however glycogen is a more rapidly available energy source than fats and easier to digest. As such, an increase in carbs results in more rapidly available energy source, which leads to better performance. Distance athletes want to be mindful of the quality of the calories they eat, as well as the quantity. While it can be tempting to overeat because the increase of training will make runners very hungry, be mindful of making healthy choices that are low in fat and higher in carbs. Runners need to eat to maintain their energy, but eating unhealthy, high fat foods can lead to weight gain and poor nutrition, which will slow a runner’s pace.
Erica Tillinghast is Global Education Manager at Precor (www.precor.com). A certified personal trainer, Erica is responsible for developing the education gym facilities, trainers and exercisers need to get the most out of their workouts on Precor equipment. Her training videos and workouts, located in the Precor Coaching Center, are grounded in exercise science and inspired by popular trends and proven training methods. Visit precor.com/en-us/coaching-center to learn more.