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How to prepare for a marathon: Tips for first timers

By Savio D'souza
December 28, 2018 09:40 IST
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A person training for a 10 km marathon should not run a 21 km marathon at the last minute as it might lead to injuries, says marathon trainer Savio D'Souza.

How to prepare for a marathon

Photograph: Kind courtesy Tata Mumbai Marathon

Whether you are an amateur runner, professional marathoner, young or old runner, proper training is indispensable for successful completion of a marathon.

Having said that it is equally important to enjoy the race and the spirit of the marathon than solely focusing on finishing it.

Savio D'souza, a former marathon champion shares a few tips that will help you prepare for a marathon.


The primary thing to make sure is that you simply work with a coach or prepared runners who can prompt you around prepare you well with the necessary requirements for the run.

Practicing depends on how long the runners are training themselves. The runners should train themselves keeping in mind the distance they will be running.

A person training for a 10 km marathon should not run a 21 km marathon at the last minute as it might lead to injuries.

Also, the runners need to check with their physician before beginning any extensive exercise program like training for a marathon.

Make a reasonable weekly workout schedule and stick to it. Elderly runners should do medical checkups and look after their health to avoid injuries on the race day.

Be proactive in your approach to injuries and don't ignore the warning signs of an injury.

Runners should train smart, not hard. While the runners are training themselves, a well-devised training plan gradually increases the mileage.

Sports gear

Along with proper nutrition and exercises, the sports gear is one of the essentials for a marathon.

Starting from choosing the comfortable apparel to the right pair of shoes, tested running gear is considered as the preferred wear for the marathon.

The wrong pair of shoes increases the chances of a knee injury.

For the first-timers, the ideal time for buying a sports gear is at least two months prior to the marathon as one needs to be comfortable in the running attire.

It is recommended to opt for the fabric that best suits your body.  


It is ideal to have energy-rich foods like oats and tea and also ensure that the body is well-hydrated.

Do not change the routine.

If you consume tea or coffee daily, do not skip it on the race day.

Energy is most vital for running marathons.

With less than a month to go for the race, it is important to ensure that your body is trained the right way. Eat meals that give you proper nutrients and avoid oily foods.  

Do not run the race empty stomach, as it will lead to acidity or weakness.

On the day of the race, drink 1-2 glasses of water as you wake up in the morning; followed by a healthy breakfast that includes healthy fruits, dry fruits, or oats to keep your stomach full enough so as to sustain through the race.  

The most important thing is to have a watch on your post-run meal. 

Many runners neglect this. It is important to have light meals and not include junk food in the diet.

Hydrate well

In order to strengthen your muscles and enhance the comprehensive performance, proper hydration is of utmost importance.

Water not only helps in staying calm but also relieves pressure which in turn boosts your performance.

On the day of the race, runners should consume enough amount of water to avoid the risk of overheating the body and lack of glycogen.

Race Day tips

It is recommended to carry a banana or dry fruits. Consuming a banana about half hour before the run will help the runners survive the race.   

Be mentally prepared for the race and also visualise the route.

Make mental notes with regard to the water stops and also, have a defined plan on how much mid-race hydration and nutrition you will need and at the various points in the race. 

On the race day, breakfast is a must.

A light, ideal and energy packed one. 

Hydrate your body well for several days leading up to your marathon.

Drink a big glass of water before you go to bed the night before race day; drink another one first thing in the morning. 

Carry energy drinks, electral water or chew bars that are easy to digest as well as easy to carry, to keep the body charged. 

A few small things to keep in mind

  • Make sure that the laces are tied; the clothes are comfortable to the body and ensure neat and well-tied hair so as to keep you from disturbance during the run.
  • Runners should do light stretching and light exercise before the marathon.
  • Do not hesitate in taking help from the pacers.
  • Also, for all sort of runners, a marathon isn’t for competition. Run for your delight and enjoy yourself. 

6. Post-marathon

Keeping the body well maintained and healthy even after the marathon is a must.

After completing the run, runners should keep practicing and exercising. Your body will need recovery and thus, you might crave for foods and liquids.

Make sure your body gets healthy calories and enough hydration to help recover it.

A diet that includes light and nourishing food is easy to digest. For instance, vegetables and fruits are some of the food items that help your body nourish, speed up and recover after the race.

Savio D'SouzaThe author Savio D'souza is a national champion from 1984-1988 and Pune International Marathon winner in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Currently, he is training more than 100 runners for Tata Mumbai Marathon at Nariman Point and Priya Darshani Park in Mumbai.

The 16th edition of Tata Mumbai Marathon is on Sunday, January 20, 2019.

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Savio D'souza