Training for a marathon: how to prepare (even if it’s your first time)

From the running pace to muscle strengthening and motor coordination exercises, the advice of Dr. Flavio Doni, cardiologist and marathoner, to prepare safely

Maria Elena Perrero

March 28
– Milano

Training for a marathon for the first time: what is the right preparation? Even for regular runners, who perhaps limit themselves to a run of about ten kilometers, this may not seem an easy task, let alone for those who have never run in their life … But how long does it take? “It depends on the starting level: those who are already trained to run must start an ad hoc training 12-14 weeks before the date, while those who have never raced must start preparing a year earlier”, explains Dr. Flavio Doni to Gazzetta Active. , cardiologist and marathon runner, head of the Marathon Center at Palazzo della Salute-Wellness Clinic in Milan.

How to prepare for the marathon?

But let’s see in detail how the preparation work for a marathon must proceed. “The ideal is to run at least three times a week, because if more than three to four days pass the muscle he loses his memory. Of these sessions, two can be between 10 and 15 km, while the third session is always a little longer, perhaps 20 km, and gradually increases, up to even the long or very long of 35 km in view of the marathon. In this way we proceed from a minimum of 40 km per week to about ninety km. However, the ideal would be to go for a run four times a week, because it allows you to train well without overloading yourself, especially after the age of 40 “, explains Dr. Doni.

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Training for a marathon: running and core

Regardless of how many days you go for a run, on the other days you don’t think you will remain idle … “On the other days you do a free body work, for the development of the basic functions of the organism to have a balanced, functional and safe running “, explains the cardiologist. The free body work to support running is varied and extensive: “You need to set a correct attitude to minimize the risk of injuries. I speak therefore of exercises of muscle strengthening (but not weight lifting), in particular for the leg muscles, without ever forgetting, however, the abdominal and back muscles, the so-called core . This is very important because it guarantees the stability of the trunk while running. In fact, the problem with the marathon is that everything is amplified: if I have an incorrect posture and run 7-8 km I don’t have time to experience its negative effects. But if I stay there for 20-30 km or even for a marathon, there are injuries. For this, the exercises of joint mobility, of proprioception, balance, motor coordination. Then it stretching, which should be done every day, even if briefly, on the various muscle chains. Let’s remember that, above all, after a certain age, the first goal of running a marathon is not to do it well, but not to get hurt “.

How many km to run before a marathon?

Do you never have to experience a length similar to that of the marathon first? “It’s a question often asked by those who have never prepared a marathon, but the answer is absolutely no. At most you can do about 38 km, but at a much slower pace than you think you can do later. In any case, the last long run is run no less than three weeks before the race, because the last phase must be of settling down, with reduced loads, otherwise you will arrive at the marathon with tired muscles, at risk of injury. ‘important, in short, before a marathon is to run many kilometers, but not continuously “.

While it is true that everyone can prepare one marathon , by calculating the right times, physical fitness is a prerequisite. “You must be healthy and of normal weight. In an absolute sense, you should never run if you have a body mass index higher than 28, or in any case you are overweight, otherwise you risk overloading your joints”, warns the cardiologist. “In these cases, therefore, it is good to first lose the extra pounds, with a controlled diet and ad hoc training, and then you can start running, initially alternating running with walking and going away to increase the time dedicated to the first. , but without focusing on speed, in order to be able to run smoothly for an hour, in which it will be possible to complete 7-8 km “.

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Then the preparation changes: we begin to work on quality, doing specific works that aim to improve endurance, the ability of the muscles to use fat as fuel, maximum oxygen consumption, resistance to lactic acid. All parameters that have a series of specific training methods “.

The right speed to run a marathon?

Ma a what speed do you have to get to run, in order not to finish last in a marathon? “Normally the time limits are around 5 and a half to 6 hours, which is equivalent to running at about 7.5 kilometers per hour, so 8 minutes per kilometer, the equivalent of a brisk walk. 6.30 minutes per kilometer they can be a reasonable goal, considering that it means finishing a marathon in four and a half hours. “

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