A five and 10K might not be a marathon, but for a regular Joe, it can feel like just that. And with the Ministry of Health's Jamaica Moves initiative inspiring so many of these long-distance running charity events, participants could benefit from some marathon training exercises recommended by fitness trainer Gisel Harrow.
“A marathon is just over 26 miles or 42 kilometres. If it sounds intimidating then chances are you might want to hold off attempting it until your body is in the right shape to manage the rigours of what is a longevity-type activity, Harrow told All Woman.
She said that to prepare for any long-distance event, and in particular a marathon tour, your fitness level should be at optimal, which means a healthy balance between strength training, cardiovascular training and endurance.
“All these combined will lead to optimal fitness and yield great results. Whether you are a professional athlete or just a part of the general population, having a balanced fitness level is paramount to living well and this of course betters your chances of not only completing the long-distance event, but also doing well,” Harrow advised.
Some exercises that she says are ideal for marathon training and that will help to maintain fitness or balance, whether you are an athlete, racing newbie or just want to cross it off your bucket list, include:
This is lifting weights at least three times per week, targeting the major muscle groups. These involve exercises from the push or pull, or compound movements such as squats, deadlifts, chest exercises, back exercises, and arm exercises.
This is using cardio to strengthen your heart muscles, lungs and boost the circulatory system. This can be done three to five days per week. It burns calories and helps in weight loss. Some effective cardio activities include running, aerobics, swimming, cycling and walking.
This is the ability to sustain the necessary activity level for a specific competitive sport or fitness training. It's the combination of both strength and cardiovascular training along with stretches to promote flexibility.
Harrow cautions that while the euphoria that comes with crossing the finish line following a marathon might be hard to match, it is important that you give yourself enough time to train — six months at least — so that you can give your body time to adapt to the rigours of training as it gets into shape.
“One of the most important things that you want to do is to do things at a steady pace so you don't end up hurting yourself. So even as you run while training you want to make sure that even your increase in mileage is gradual and the same goes for all other exercise techniques. This way you reduce injury and any associated downtime that could eat away training time,” Harrow advised.
She said that you should also consider getting appropriate training gear such as shoes, socks and clothes that will make the experience better, as well as proper training nutrition.
“When prepping for your marathon, in meal planning you should increase protein in your diet and balance this with carbs, keep hydrated, preferably with lots of water, fuel yourself mid work out, and always remember before all marathon-related exercises that about 30 to 60 minutes before you should snack on something that will supply you with energy and that can be easily digested,” Harrow recommends.