5 Things you may have Forgotten to Include in your Marathon Training

By now, you’re about halfway into your fall marathon training. If you’re like the majority of runners, you’re focused mostly on your running. Logging miles, planning long runs and measuring your pace are obviously important. Too often however, the other parts of a well-rounded training program get overlooked.

As I train for my third Twin Cities Marathon this summer, I’ve realized I need to be reminded of some simple running truths. I get caught up in the miles and forget the importance of the “non-running” elements. Practicing the discipline of these five things will be critical to helping me (and you) achieve our marathon goals.

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Some Non-Running Essentials

1. Sleep

Research suggests a minimum of 7.5 hours is necessary. Runners need more sleep!  When we sleep, our body releases a hormone that stimulates muscle growth and repair, as well as bone building and fat burning. The National Sleep Foundation says that “sleep is as essential as diet and exercise. Inadequate sleep can result in fatigue, depression, concentration problems, illness and injury.” More sleep now means healthier, faster legs on race day.

2. Nutrition

Are you eating the right type and correct amount of calories? You need more than normal, but don’t load up on craft beer, cookies and pizza just because you ran 20 miles on Saturday. That can still slow you down. Stick to whole grains, lean meats and TONS of fruits and vegetables. We have several recipes in our nutrition section if you need ideas.

3. Hydration

Everyone knows how important hydration is. Staying hydrated during your entire training cycle is just as important as on race day. The amount of fluid you need will vary, but drink so your urine looks like lite lemonade. Even small amounts of dehydration can cause significant issues on marathon day.

4. Set SMART Goals

Set SMART Goals – Why are you running? Have you spent time to write down your goals? Also, are your goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound (SMART)? If not, now is a great time to readjust (or create) goals that will help you accomplish what you want at the Twin Cities Marathon. Your goals should stretch you, yet be realistically attainable.

5. Strength Training

We should know the benefits of adding anaerobic activities into our training routine, but who has time? I recently started this 7-minute high intensity circuit plan that targets specific muscle groups that will help you run better. It’s designed for people who don’t have a lot of extra time. One of my running partners (who happens to be a physician), said that “it was studied in traditional scientific fashion and published in a peer-reviewed cardiology journal.” So it’s legit. Or here is a more intense, focused strength training plan for runners.

Hopefully your training is going well and you’re excited about your progress. If you’ve overlooked any of these other elements, you have plenty of time to incorporate all of them into your training. Viewing your marathon training as a complete lifestyle discipline will not only help you race better, but you’ll be setting yourself up for better all around well being.

What changes might you need to make to have a more well-rounded training experience?

Nathan Freeburg
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Nathan Freeburg

Editor in Chief at Minneapolis Running
Nathan started running when he was 14. 20+ years later, he's still going. When he's not running, he enjoys exploring the city with his son, finding new restaurants with his wife, traveling, or backpacking. He loves dark beer, dark chocolate and dark coffee.

Nathan currently lives in Portland, but works in Minneapolis and runs wherever he is. Favorite Minnesota running route is anything that takes him along the Mississippi River.
Race Results.

Nathan's day job is as a senior consultant with Leadership Vision Consulting in Downtown Minneapolis.
Nathan Freeburg
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