Preparing for Your First Marathon

Preparing for your first marathon

Running a marathon can be an arduous challenge, but Sanlam Cape Town Marathon – Africa’s only IAAF accredited marathon – ambassador Elana Meyer believes anyone can achieve the feat. With the right preparation and commitment, she says every person can complete the 42.2km race distance.

Meyer, a former Olympic 10,000m silver medallist, world half-marathon champion and world record holder over 5km, 15km and 21.1km, with six of the eight fastest times in the SA women’s all-time list over the standard marathon distance, shares some of her running wisdom:

“Ideally you need to gradually build up from 10km to 21km to the marathon, but there are many people who pick a marathon as a challenge and just go for it. It depends on the individual and the personality,” Meyer says. “Preparing for a marathon, the focus should be on strength, endurance and pace runs,” she continues. “You need to be strong if you want to run a good marathon. Strength conditioning will help you stay injury free and you’ll handle the distance a lot better. Also incorporate hill repeats. They will make you tough.”

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Long distance runs are key according to Meyer. Slower distance efforts need to be included in the training regimen of every aspiring marathon runner because time spent on one’s legs is a vital part of race preparation. Speed work, however, also plays a part as it will make racing more comfortable. “Incorporate time trials, park runs or longer intervals into your programme. It will help with running economy and you will feel a lot more comfortable at marathon race pace.”

Some of Meyer’s other tips include:

  • Make sure you have training buddies when you sign up for the marathon. The journey will be much more enjoyable.
  • If you can, do most of your runs off road.
  • Have fun and enjoy the journey.

For those who will tackle the second edition of the Sanlam Cape Town marathon, to be held on 20 September, they can follow a 12-16 week programme available from www.sanlamcapetownmarathon.com or sign up with one of the Sanlam Cape Town Marathon coaches for on-line coaching.

Author: Tanja Schmitz

Founder and Editor of Fitness Magazine. You’ll find her behind her computer or on her bike, dreaming up new ways to improve or create content for you.

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