You want to run a marathon – we get it! You’ve seen family and friends compete in and complete an amazing goal. You want to test yourself and see what you’re made of. Marathon running isn’t for everyone (don’t feel bad if you’re not into it), but if running a marathon is on your bucket list here are a few things to know about training before you start.
Dedication – Running a marathon isn’t something to decide on a whim. It’s going to take months of consistent training, making sure your diet and nutrition are on point, and even having to pass on fun social activities to run or so that you can get up early to run. Make sure you’re mentally prepared for what’s ahead.
Support – See that dedication stuff above? Make sure your family and friends know what your plan is and are on board. Training will be so much easier if you have their support. Also, consider signing up for a running group. It can be helpful to have others that are training with you as a support system, and these groups also often offer a mentor or leader that can provide good training info. Groups are often available through your local sporting goods store, or you can join something like Team In Training that’s a national organization and includes a fundraising aspect.
Check Your Finances – Everything from registration fees, quality shoes and socks, other running gear, proper nutrition, possibly hotels depending on where you’re running, and even doctor’s visits will add up. Make sure you’re not only ready to make the time commitment, but also the financial commitment.
Are You Fit To Start – Make a plan for training. Start out slow and make sure you’re physically fit enough to start training. If you’re not there yet it’s okay, it just means you need to get there before you start actual marathon training. WikiHow says that good rule of thumb is being able to complete 30 minutes of aerobic activity. If you can’t do that, work up to the 30 minutes and then start marathon training. It’s always a good idea to check in with your doctor before you start any new physical activity.
Your Body Might Hate You – Seriously. Your body might retaliate. Blisters, chafing, heat rash, muscle pain, and the list goes on. Push through and keep working toward your goal. Just know, that these things are coming and prepare to care for yourself.
Actually Training – Find a plan that fits your physical and training needs. Most plans will incorporate a variety of runs of varying length and goals including helping you build up distance and speed. REI breaks down the “Four Building Blocks of Marathon Training” and also offers some additional tips. This is where that running group would come in handy. You’re going to have so much going on, it would be nice to have a person letting you know how to proceed and answer any questions you may have.
Get Good Gear – Buy good shoes. Repeat – Buy. Good. Shoes. Caring for your feet while you are training is so important. Along with your shoes make sure you get quality socks, proper running clothing, a breathable hat, and even a runner’s belt to hold water, snacks, and your ID. Make sure to dress for the weather and never underestimate the power of sun screen.
Break If You Need To – If you get sick take a break. If you need to miss a day to attend an important life event such as a wedding take a break. If something hurts and you think you need to go to the doctor take a break. You get the idea.
Dress Rehearsal – Try running a shorter marathon a month or so before you have to run the big one. If you’re training for a half then run a 5K or 10K. Don’t use the dress rehearsal or your big marathon to break in any items. You can even head over to the marathon site the week before and do a shorter run near the finish line to help you visualize that last stretch.
Pace Yourself – The big day is here! You’re amped up and ready to go. Remember your training and pace yourself for success. It will be tempting to try to keep up with other more experienced runners. Don’t feel pressured. You’ve got your plan – stick to it.
Celebrate – Triumph! You’ve completed your race. Bask in the glory! Make sure you hydrate and get some fuel for your body. Have family or friends wait for you at the finish line and make sure you get taken care of and home safely. You’re gonna be pumped , tired, and full of adrenaline. Let someone else worry about the driving details and you just celebrate your incredible achievement.
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Remember, you know your body best! If you have chronic pain or injuries, please consult with your physician before attempting any strenuous activity.