Every runner who's attempted 26.2 miles knows that the marathon doesn't "start" until 20 miles. That's when the race gets tough, and many marathoners hit the infamous wall.
That bonk happens because your body is critically low on carbohydrates to fuel your running. Without carbs, your body slows to what seems like a crawl—and the last 10K of a marathon seems like 10 miles.
What if you could avoid "hitting the wall" and finish your next marathon strong? How would you feel if you crossed the finish line running fast—and smiling?
There are several great training and nutrition strategies you can use to prepare for your next marathon so you don't run out of steam during the final miles.
Train to Race; Don't Train to Train
Your training should be geared specifically for the marathon distance of 26.2 miles. Workouts need to prepare your body to finish strong even if you're a beginner. And no, I'm not suggesting you run hard 24-milers during training!
Here are three simple ways to make sure you're training well for the marathon:
- If it's your first marathon, schedule at least 16 (but maybe 20) weeks of training so you can run at least two 20-milers before the race.
- As an intermediate runner with a few marathons under your belt, increase your long run to 21 or 22 miles to help your body adapt to longer distances.
- A more advanced workout is to include several miles at goal marathon pace during the second half of your long run. Running when you're already tired is perfect preparation for the marathon.
Always remember that the long run is the marathoner's best friend. Do one every week or every other week during training to build your endurance and ensure you're ready to finish strong on race day.
Carb-Loading Isn't Scary
Avoiding the dreaded wall after mile 20 of a marathon isn't only about marathon-specific long runs. Eating additional carbohydrates in the days leading up to your marathon is extremely important, and helps fuel your running all the way to the finish line.