Every race has a starting point. But Enitan Ekwotafia can help get you to the finish line.
As a licensed personal trainer, Enitan Ekwotafia is used to helping her clients achieve their fitness goals. But running a marathon is different. It’s not as easy as lacing up some sneakers and hitting the pavement. It requires focused commitment and detailed planning.
Yet Enitan Ekwotafia is up for the challenge. Even if you’ve never run a mile, the seasoned professional steps up to provide seven must-have strategies for any marathon training program.
Save the date
Make race day the goal. So, circle your calendar. After all, race day is the culmination of your hard work. Simply select a date to use as the endpoint. Then, build your schedule by working backwards. But, stick close to home too. For your initial race, it helps to choose something local so you can familiarize yourself with the route.
Enitan Ekwotafia recommends building distance for about a year before entering a race. Aspiring runners should shoot for approximately 50 miles each. But this should be regular and consistent. Avoid dramatic increases. She cautions against increasing more than 10% in a given week. Progressing too quickly may cause fatigue, injury, or burnout.
Schedule a long run
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t push yourself. Test the limits by working in a longer run. Every couple of weeks, use a long run to evaluate your progress while still limiting major spikes in total mileage. These longer runs should only extend your normal route by a mile or two each time. You’ll want to adjust your pace too. As you extend your distance, start decreasing your speed to compensate.
However, you shouldn’t go slow all the time. Mix up your runs. Speedwork boosts aerobic capacity. The most popular forms are interval and tempo training. For an interval workout, repeat sets of shorter distances at faster paces. Slow jog or walk between sets. Tempo training is usually longer.
Hit the gym
Running alone won’t cut it. Cross-training, lifting weights, and other strength exercises are the best ways to ensure your body is ready for the rigors of race day. And this might improve your overall health too. The repetitive movements of running produce a lot of wear and tear on the knees and joints. In addition to group fitness classes, Enitan Ekwotafia encourages her clients to try swimming or even yoga. These activities have a lower impact.
Don’t leave the tank empty. To reach peak performance, you’ll need fuel. Replenish the nutrients lost during exercise. But you must be proactive. Focus on drinking and eating properly before, during, and after training. Although dietary needs are different for everyone, water is always essential. Enitan Ekwotafia advocates using a hydration belt on race day.
Just like adequate nutrition, recovery isn’t an option. Your muscles need an occasional day off. As Enitan Ekwotafia reminds her clients, the body builds muscle during these periods of rest. But recovery can also help fight fatigue and combat burnout. Listen to your body. If pains, aches, or other issues persist, take a little more time.