If your craving for some personal challenge, running is your thing and the idea of taking part in a marathon has crossed your mind several times, the time is right to get yourself ready for this year’s Baltimore Running Festival. With five distances to choose from, you can test your ever-growing limits starting with a 5K race, prove yourself you can go the distance of a half-marathon or a marathon, or join your friends in Team Relay and enjoy all the excitement it brings.
Here are a few tips on how to prepare for and get the most out of your Baltimore run.
Know Your Limits
You have to be objective and aware of your limits when choosing the length of your run, as doing those 26.2 miles as well as preparing for them inadequately, can put you in the significant risk of injury.
Try to be honest with yourself when it comes to your current form and your base mileage – if you’re beneath 20-30 miles consistently on your weekly routine runs, you’ll need more than the average 16 to 20 weeks to prepare.
Fortunately, you can always opt for shorter races or a half-marathon, as they are great ways to get you prepared both physically and mentally for your first marathon.
Plan Your Training Routine
It’s always the best to start with your preparations much earlier so that you can increase your mileage gradually during your training phase. When preparing for the marathon, there are several key points you need to pay attention to:
Base miles. Running three to four times per week, at a comfortable, conversational pace, will do wonders for your strength and endurance. Over the last four months before the run, increase the mileage gradually, but no more than 10 percent a week, until you reach 50 miles.
Long runs. Have a long run in every 7 to 10 days, adding an extra mile every week, and peaking at 20 miles. Many experts recommend scaling your long run back for 2 miles after three weeks, in order to avoid overuse and injuries, and switching to the usual plan afterward.
Speed and resistance training. Consider adding some speed training, such as interval or tempo runs, to your schedule, as these may boost your aerobic capacity and help you build your strength and endurance. Resistance training will help you with your body alignment and stabilize your joints, so it’s beneficial to consider it too.
Rest. Don’t forget that your body and your muscles need to rest to endure the challenge you’re putting them through, so take days off running. Still, there are other activities which you can practice safely, such as swimming, yoga, hiking, cycling, etc.
Tapering. Take it easy during the last two or even three weeks before the race. Significantly reduce your weekly mileage and make your training much easier, and let your body gather energy it needs for that day.
When it comes to the Baltimore Marathon, some runners refer to it as “a hilly beast”, so make sure you’ve prepared for some challenging hilly parts, especially those near Lake Montebello.
The Right Gear
You have to be absolutely certain that your shoes, socks and all the clothes you are wearing during your training are comfortable and fit perfectly so that you can avoid blisters and injuries.
Your running shoes need to be lightweight and with proper cushioning to provide you with extra support and stability. Some even recommend training with two pairs of running shoes and opting for the better fit for the racing day, which can be done easily nowadays with so many affordable running shoes you can find in specialized online stores.
Pay special attention to your socks and other clothes too, and avoid cotton fabrics, as they won’t prevent blistering or chafing.
Nutrition and Hydration
Your nutrition and hydration significantly affect your performance, both during your preparation training and during your race day. So, even though your body needs carbs to perform well in such extreme conditions and during your training, try to get them from eating a lot of fruits and vegetables, and not pasta or chocolate bars. For the day of the marathon, provide yourself with carbs you can easily carry, such as energy gels and chews, energy bars, and a few pieces of fruit.
Hydration is also crucial, but on the day of the marathon, there are many water stations along your route, so it shouldn’t be a problem. But have this in mind when you’re planning your long runs, so you should either make your route pass by water fountains or carry your own hydration belt.
And if you’re a first time visitor or have still many things to discover about this fascinating city, use your time before and after the race for some touring around Baltimore, and enjoying its festive atmosphere.