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It is on many people’s bucket lists to eventually run a marathon. While it is a worthy goal to strive for, it also requires a lot of work. A marathon consists of 26.2 miles, and it takes a real toll on the body. To prepare adequately, first-time marathon runners should follow these guidelines to have a more productive run.

Get the Right Gear

You want to have durable socks and supportive, lightweight shoes if you plan on running a marathon. You should avoid wearing a plain cotton t-shirt. You want something made out of nylon or Coolmax that will not suffocate you as you run. If you wear something on a practice run that irritates you, then you definitely want to swap it out with something else.

Go Gradually

You will not do yourself any favors if the first time you go out running in months is for 26 miles. Start at a pace you are comfortable with. Stick with it for a week and then gradually increase the length of your runs. Once you feel comfortable, you should consider signing up for a 10K and then a half marathon to see how you feel with those. If these runs feel like too much, then you may want to hold off on a full marathon for the time being.

Alternate Between Hard, Slow and Off Days

You are going to do more harm than good if you run at a full sprint every day of the week. You should definitely put in a hard workout one or two days a week, but then you need to alternate between slow days where you go on shorter, less intense runs. At least one day out of the week should be your rest day.

Cross-Train

Running every day can become tiresome. Feel free to mix up your routine by rowing, cycling or swimming. These aerobic exercises still do a lot of good, and you will remain motivated.

Maintain a Healthy Diet

You do not want to skip breakfast when you are training for a marathon. Make sure you consume plenty of carbohydrates in your diet. During dinner time, that can include potatoes and pasta. A vegan diet can have many benefits for athletes. Keep healthy snacks around such as vegan protein bars or some vegan plant-based protein powder for delicious protein smoothies. You also want to remain hydrated during your runs. Water is best, but a sports drink can also be helpful if you need to replenish electrolytes.

Mimic the Course

Once you get closer to the marathon date, you should take a look at what the course will entail. During one of your practice runs, you should mimic the course to the best of your ability. For instance, if the course will involve a lot of hills, then you definitely want to practice running up and down hills because it can get tricky.

Rest

Listen to your body if you are in pain. There is no need to continue running if you are physically incapable of doing so. Incorporate some active recovery with your marathon training routine. A marathon is not worth injuring yourself. At the end of the day, you are doing this to get in shape and do something fun. Enjoy yourself and build up a support network of people rooting you along your journey.