How to train for a marathon

How to train for a marathon

by: Stacey Peters | .
Stripes Europe | .
published: March 01, 2017

You can’t see the finish line, but according to the digital race watch you wear on your left arm, you know you don’t have far to go. Your heart is racing, your calves are aching and the sweat is making it hard for you to see the road ahead. The crowds formed along the street, don’t know your name, but they appreciate your heart and determination to finish what you started 5K, 10K or 26.2 miles way back when. It’s not a race, but a challenge to your mental and physical endurance. A challenge you may have wondered to yourself whether you could even finish.

But more importantly, you got started.

If it’s your first marathon too, you may not have really known what you signed up for. You purchased a pair of great running shoes, according to Runner’s Magazine, and a few micro fiber shorts, because you heard they keep perspiration away from your body and dry out quickly. You may have even downloaded a few marathon training schedules or picked up a magazine in the Commissary to get you started.

Why run?

Staring at yourself in the mirror, you weren’t charmed by the reflection staring back at you. Or you needed something to occupy yourself while your spouse was deployed or better yet, something to do—together once he/ she returned. It may be that you need to establish a goal for yourself to celebrate the fact that you are alive and healthy. Running, I’m told, relieves stress. I say that only because I started running recently, and while I’m relieved once my run is over, I wouldn’t exactly say my days are completely stress-free now. Or just maybe a marathon could be your way to give back to one of the popular charitable organizations. Perhaps you run because for that moment in time, you want to feel extraordinary, you want to do something most people only think about doing, but never actually get off the couch. Whatever the reason, running is a great way to burn a lot of calories and lose a little weight too.

So where do you start?

Consult your physician and if you get the green light decide which race you’d like to tackle. Download an applicable training guide from sites like, where you’ll find information on diet, interactive apps and more. No one thinks running is easy, it takes commitment. If it were, it would be less of a challenge and the roads would be bogged down by people on two-wheels rather that in four. Get it?

Make every breath count!

Breathing correctly is an important element to getting the most from your run. Breathe deeply from the diaphragm from both your mouth and nose to fill your lungs with an adequate air supply. Exhale the same way to repel carbon monoxide.  According to Runners Magazine, you should run at 50 to 70% of your maximum heart rate to build up your stamina for long distance running. If you don’t want to purchase a heart monitor, there is a simple way to calculate your targeted heart rate zone. Subtract your age from 220. Multiply the result by .50 and .70 to give your targeted heart rate zone.

Most treadmills are equipped with a heart rate feature as well. Remember; don’t start off running too fast, make sure to run at a pace that is comfortable to you.

Fuel the body good!

You have to eat to lose weight, my husband keeps reminding me. Don’t skip any meals to avoid your body from going into “starvation mode”. Eat smaller meals more often throughout the day to avoid hunger pains. Make sure each meal has a portion of protein, lean meats and beans, to helps increase muscle growth and recovery.

Here are a few additional tips:

  • Consult your doctor before beginning any new exercise regimen.
  • Check with your local MWR for 5K, 10K and fun runs held on your local military installation.
  • Hit the web and sign-up for one of numerous races all over Germany. Make sure you are aware of any pre-requisites, like physical exam or applicable fees. Websites like are great resources for marathons held all over Germany, as well as the world.
  • Figure out what time of day works best for you and try to stick with it throughout your training.
  • Keep a journal to keep track of distance, times and calories burned.
  • Find a friend to run with… but remember this is more or less a personal experience… so train at your own pace.
  • Don’t get bored… get creative. Mix up your training to keep your mind engaged.
  • Get plenty of rest, you’ll need it.
  • Drink plenty of water and … pickle juice. Yes, according to the Health Psychology department at Vanderbilt University, pickles and the salty juice they are packed in will decrease the likelihood you develop cramps while running.

So what are you waiting for? “Running is the greatest metaphor for life, because you get out of it what you put into it,” according to Oprah Winfrey. And like Oprah, I don’t know if running will become my exercise of choice after I complete my upcoming marathon in March. Actually, I’m fairly certain it won’t! I do know that I have gained an appreciation, an admiration even, for people who can drown out all the voices, all the doubt and all the fear, ignore the pain and run for the finish line.

Tags: health, fitness, running, marathon, training, tips
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