marathonIf you’re preparing to run your first marathon, give yourself a pat on the back. After all, you’re about to undergo the transformation of a lifetime—by becoming more determined, stronger and fitter than you ever have been! As you already know, participating in a marathon—whether it’s a 5k, 10k or beyond—is no easy feat. To increase your chances of crossing that finish line with gusto (and natural born runner success!), apply the following tips to your stride.  When you do, you’ll become the marathon runner you’ve always wanted to be—but didn’t know you were!

Allow Adequate Time to Train

If you’re brand new to marathon running, the most important aspect of training is a simple one: give yourself enough time to prepare.  No matter how fit you may be, achieving the stamina and strength to cross the finish line within the time you’re shooting for takes practice and patience. If you’ve just signed up for your first 10k, for example, make sure it’s five to six months down the road—because that’s what you’ll need to prepare for it, properly.  Once you have your date marked, spend the next few weeks running for thirty minutes without stopping. Then, spend each additional day increasing your distance by a mile—with a day or rest each week.

Invest in the Right Shoes

What difference can a pair of shoes really make? Whether you believe it or not, a pair of high quality running shoes that are correct for your particular foot type can make a big difference. Do you have a strong arch, or are you flat footed? How does your foot naturally hit the ground when you run? Do you land on the center of your foot, or do you primarily lean to one side? Invest in a good pair of shoes (made for long distance running), and you’re off to a head start!

Apply Proper Form

When it comes to winning the race (or simply being proud of crossing the finish line), form is everything. Train for your upcoming marathon by stretching first and foremost. Next, lightly jog for about 10-15 minutes in order to reduce your risk for injury. Your posture should be aligned and straight.  Check the position of your head periodically, so that you’re not looking down at the ground but straight ahead. Relax your shoulders and keep your arms to your side. Is any part of your body feeling tense or uncomfortable? Inhale, and visualize yourself running effortlessly, and about to cross the finish line.  By focusing on something positive, your entire body can relax.

As one of the best ways to stay fit from head to toe, marathon running will improve your confidence, strength and stamina. While it may not always be easy to achieve,  training is a journey—and it’s worth every step along the way.