From not being able to run 2km to nailing ultra marathons, Under Armour ambassador Marie Choo shares her tips on running the first 42K.
Fitness trainer Marie Choo is a lean mean ultra-marathoner today, but it wasn’t this way just a few years ago when she couldn’t even complete a 2K run. After a startling transformation, Marie now runs long distances, dives and even finds the time to work with dog rescue groups.
The Under Armour brand ambassador who is part of the #UACelebrateWomen movement shares with us her top tips on how anyone can train up for their first marathon.
This is a no-brainer but hard work is involved regardless of whether it is speed, strength or distance that you’re looking to increase. Frequent training will also improve your endurance and build muscles. But it’s also important to start at a manageable pace or you may lose steam or worse, overtrain. When Marie first started, she upped her running to three or four times a week from once or twice.
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Vary your workouts
To make sure that your body does not get used to your workouts, remember to switch them up. Marie says, “I learnt that I needed to do both short runs as well as long and slow runs to build my stamina and endurance.”
Marie also recommends doing body weight or weight training to strengthen muscles and ensure they will be able to withstand her running load. With stronger muscles, you are also less injury prone. “To make it fun and varied, I also do boxing as it is a good way to improve agility, lightness on feet, and focus,” Marie tells us.
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The scenery makes it less boring and more enjoyable. Plus, marathons are held outdoors so you should get used to the same terrain.
(Also read: How to Enjoy Running Outdoors)
Stretch your muscles after running
Tight muscles cause pain, discomfort, and poorer sessions. In extreme cases, it can also lead to misalignment, causing injuries to the knees and ankles. When Marie realised the importance of stretching, she started incorporating yoga and foam rolling into her routine. It helped her to feel balanced and prevented muscle contractions on her runs, giving her a smoother experience.
(Also read: 5 Calf Stretches That Every Runner Should Do)
Have strong determination
Mind over matter. This applies to many things, including running. When you hit wall mid-run, crank up the music and think of the finish line.
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Be kind to yourself
When you fail to meet a session or don’t see any improvement, don’t beat yourself up. Instead, take things easy. Marie said, “I started by alternating running and walking. I would run a distance that I could manage and would break into a walk when I was tired. When I had recovered my breath, I would start running again.”
Fuel your body
After all that exercise, you have to feed your body. Not just feed it with anything, though. We agree with Marie on that fact that “Some people make the mistake that they can eat anything as long as they work out. I used to think I could indulge in all the food I like since I can afford it.” While you do deserve a treat, it is important not to overindulge because it is impossible to out-train a bad diet.
As a simple rule, try to avoid eating highly processed foods. Incorporate more whole foods and drink more water.
Give yourself time to recover
Rest should be part of training because it allows your muscles to recover and prepares you for the next race. A tip from Marie: “I speed up my recovery process by applying magnesium cream, taking magnesium orally, going for regular massages, and taking at least one to two days off running a week.”
Have a well-rounded system
Marie has five core pillars in her training cycle – cardiovascular fitness, strength training, stretching and mobility, nutrition, and recovery. By catering for all of these, you will make fitness a sustainable lifestyle instead of a vanity project.