You have already spent a plenty of time to build up the muscles and master running skills, finding the enjoyment of running. Now it’s time to challenge the next goal – a full marathon! Of course, you may be apprehensive, thinking, “I don’t know if I can run such a long distance …” or “I’m not quite sure if I can finish a full marathon.” But don’t worry. Here, we have the head coach of Shiseido Running Club, Mr. Manabu Kawagoe and the team runners, Ms. Risa Takenaka and Ms. Yukiko Okuno to share their tips and preparation training program for your first full marathon.
What did Ms. Takenaka and Ms. Okuno feel when they first ran a full marathon? “Of course, I was nervous but I was rather excited about running my first full marathon. I found it very hard at some points but I could enjoy it more than I had expected,” says Ms. Takenaka. Ms. Okuno adds: “I had no experience running more than 30km in training so I was both nervous and excited about challenging a full length. At the same time, many people said that I should expect my legs to stop going at around 30 km or so and I was also worried about what would happen to me then.” Well, they seem to have experienced the same kinds of feelings as we do. But good preparation training makes a difference. So let’s get down to training to help you ace the Big Day with confidence.
Born in 1962 in Kagoshima prefecture. Graduated from Waseda University. Won numerous races and ran the key Second Stage of Hakone Ekiden. Joined Shiseido HR Dept. in 1986 and ran in various competitions as a member athlete of Running Club. After retiring from competition, nurtured numerous athletes as a coach and supervisor. In 2007, left Shiseido and set up a club team “Second Wind AC” to train international-level athletes and junior athletes. In January 2017, returned to Shiseido as the head coach of Shiseido Running Club.
Risa Takenaka, Shiseido Running Club member
Born in Shiga prefecture in 1990. Graduated from Ritsumeikan University. A top-level runner in Japan since her student days, focusing mostly on 5,000-meter distance. Entered Shiseido in 2012. In her first marathon race, the Nagoya Women’s Marathon (March 2015), Takenaka placed 4th (3rd among Japanese), winning the Rookie Prize. Finished 3rd in Osaka Women’s Marathon held in January 2016. One of the top Japanese runners, aiming at world-level marathon races.
Yukiko Okuno, Shiseido Running Club member
Born in Kyoto prefecture in 1992. Graduated from Kyoto Sangyo University. Took the bronze medal at the 2013 Summer Universiade half marathon, and won the 2014 All Japan Women’s Student Half Marathon. Competed in 2014 Osaka Women’s Marathon in the “Next Heroine” program and finished top of students, placing 8th overall. Entered Shiseido in 2015. Okuno came first among Japanese women in the 10th Tokyo Marathon (February 2016).
Enrolled for a Marathon! Start Peaking for the Race
You have the distance of 42.195km to run so you must prepare properly in advance. Ms. Takenaka and Ms. Okuno explain the importance of preparation, saying:
“When you complete a full marathon, you feel a great sense of fulfillment but at the same time, your body is actually worn out. Just a single race may cause an injury so preparing well in advance is very important.” (Ms. Takenaka)
“When you finish a race, you will get pains not just in your legs but in the whole body. I could barely walk on the next day of my first marathon.” (Ms. Okuno)
They both emphasize the importance of preparation in order to prevent an injury and any troubles after a race. In addition, we never know what may happen during a marathon even if all goes well at the beginning, so to prevent any accident, make sure to prepare properly before you head to the start line!
Completing the First Full Marathon! Preparation Tips by Stage
Now, we understand the importance of preparation, but what exactly do we have to do and when to start? Mr. Kawagoe and Ms. Takenaka reveal the training menu that they follow three months to one week before a race.
1.Three months to go: Get familiar with a long distance!
At first, start walking, or running a short distance at a slow pace. At this stage, we aim to make training a part of daily routine, a habit. There is still a plenty of time before a race so don’t push yourself, just start preparation without haste.
Mr. Kawagoe explains the training menu in detail. “I would recommend that you do training twice a week, once on a weekday and once on a weekend. On a weekday, start with 15 minutes walking and 20 minutes jogging and then gradually increase the training time. And on a weekend, as we aim to run as long a distance as possible, start with a slow run for 40 minutes to two hours, and once you get used to the distance, pace up in the latter part of the run!”
2.One month to go: Boost your stamina to complete the race!
At this stage, you are getting used to running. Ms. Takenaka and her team members start including more specific trainings toward running a long distance.
Here again, go training twice a week. “On a weekday, start with slow jogging and then do “buildup running” for 40 minutes. Buildup running is a running technique when an athlete starts jogging at a slow pace and then gradually speeds up. On a weekend, you can set a 90-120 minute jogging training or join a half marathon.” (Mr. Kawagoe) In order to prevent an injury or lingering fatigue, add massages and stretches after training.
3.One week to go: Reduce fatigue! A healthy diet for body maintenance
The only thing you can do at this stage is to keep your body condition ready for the race! Especially right before the race, take in plenty of carbs and charge up your energy. This is the ultimate training menu according to Mr. Kawagoe and Ms. Takenaka. Ms. Takenaka tries to eat a lot of rice cakes while Mr. Kawagoe starts carbohydrate loading three days prior to a race to build up energy.
If you go training, run 10km at your comfortable pace one week prior to the race, and two days before the race, go for a light jog of 30 minutes and just do light exercising or walking on the previous day.
Athletes’ Tips! Dos and Don’ts in a Race
Last but not least, the Running Club members share the tips to bear in mind during a race that help you cross the finish line. Just remember what they say when it gets tough out there.
Mr. Kawagoe advises: “The most important thing is that you enjoy the race. For instance, you can enjoy the view along the course, appreciate the cheers by supporters, or encourage other runners and support each other, among other things. Try to relax and enjoy running.”
Ms. Takenaka says: “Take a bit of water at water stations from an early stage even if you don’t feel thirsty. It gets grueling in the latter part of the race and that is an extraordinary feeling only the runners who reach that stage can experience, so try enjoying it! Plus, it’s a good idea to prepare a special treat after the race that would keep you going to complete it!”
Ms. Okuno reveals her tip: “No matter how great your time is and how easy you find it in the beginning, do not increase your pace in the first half. Try to save your energy for the latter part in order to finish the race.”
So, are you getting ready to cross the finish line? Well, although this may be your goal, don’t push yourself and try to enjoy your first full marathon!
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