By: Matt Fillipps

When I began training for my first Full Marathon in 2010, I had no idea where to start.  How many days per week should I run?  What types of workouts should I do?  Is there a certain weekly mileage that I should shoot for?  These are probably the first questions that most of you have asked yourself if you have considered or are already training for a Half or Full Marathon.  However, in my four years (and lots of trial and error) of Marathon running, I have found that there are many other important things to consider when it comes to getting your body ready to cover the distance.  These are a few of the most important:

Build core strength.  This is one that I, admittedly, only started to do better with recently.  Most of the knee, hip, and other injuries from which runners suffer come from a weak core and weak hips.  In running your core and hips are extremely important, especially when you are covering a lot of miles at a time.  Any sort of imbalance in your form can cause you to favor one side and eventually the constant pounding leads to an injury.  Try to ease your way into some light weight training, push-ups, sit-ups, crunches, and hip strengthening exercises.  All of these will improve your running form and prevent some of those nagging injuries from slowing you down.

Eat healthy.  I can’t emphasize enough how essential this one is.  Up until the end of 2012, I was eating lots of lunches and dinners out at restaurants and making poor food choices.  Burger and fries?  Yes please.  Chicken wings and onion rings?  Sure, why not?  While it is always fun to enjoy these types of meals on occasion, they cannot be the norm if you have any hopes of improving your training.  For the past two years, I have been trading those chicken wings out for home-cooked chicken breast, fish, pork chops, and steak, and the onion rings have been substituted for broccoli, asparagus, green beans, and squash for dinner.  Breakfast and lunch for me typically involve at least 3 servings of fruit combined (apple, orange, banana, grapes – take your pick) along with healthy sandwiches for lunch and bagels or cereal for breakfast.  What this all adds up to is a better overall feeling for your body.  You will feel better during runs, your muscles will recover faster, and you’ll be able to push yourself harder and further in your training.  Give it a try for several months and feel the difference.  I guarantee you won’t miss the days when you weren’t giving your body the fuel it needs.

Train smart.  For those of you who are training for your first Half or Full Marathon, this means START SLOW!  Don’t try to go out there and conquer the world in your first month of training.  Slowly build up your distance and give your body some time to adjust.  If your legs are tired or you feel an injury coming on, don’t be a hero – take a rest day or two.  This goes for everyone.  Training smart for many of you might also mean working some cross training into your routine to keep the impact down on your knees.  Go for a bike ride, jump in the pool and swim laps, or work in some sort of low-impact cardio at the gym.  You won’t make your training cycle by pushing too hard through an injury or jumping up too quickly in your mileage, but you can certainly break it.


About Matt Fillipps

Work: Member Experience Consultant at Humana
Hometown: Gainesville, FL. Moved to Louisville in 2009.
YPAL Involvement: Former Director of Community Outreach and VP of Community
Interests: Member and Coach of a Marathon Training Group at Fleet Feet Sports, active in kickball and volleyball leagues. 

About the Series

The YPAL Healthcare Blog Series, sponsored by Norton Healthcare, is part of the new Healthy YP Initiative, which will focus on the health and well-being of our Louisville Young Professionals. This blog series will feature various young professional bloggers in our community sharing their stories on health, wellness, nutrition, fitness and healthy lifestyles. 

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