The marathon is arguably the most storied and lauded distance in all of endurance sports. You can run the mile of your life, you can specialize in the 5k or 10k, but nothing quite captures the essence of the physical demand and the human spirit as running the marathon. No endurance event can rally a community as effectively, gathering thousands of people to watch and cheer on runners in a scene that is nothing short of touching.
Though the facts prove that of all the distances, people are signing up for shorter-distance races instead of training for a marathon.
In the 70s and 80s, the average Joe and Jane who ran marathons were known to society as weirdos who people should not associate with. Now, your post-marathon picture is the next picture that will get hundreds of double taps on Instagram. Hundreds of people with next-to-nothing running background are signing up to run the next marathon. But signing up doesn’t mean “running” the marathon. That’s just the first step.
That being said, if you’re totally new to the 26.2 mile race, here’s some reasons and tips for you to train and enjoy your first marathon experience.
Run a Marathon, you say? Ok, why?
This is one of those things that you’ll have to figure out yourself and that’s ok! From escaping the stress of work, to running in honor of a fallen family member or helping a friend lose shed extra pounds, people ultimately KEEP on running for a reason. There indeed is a level of faith in your mettle that will be tested over and over again during your training. You’ll need to bear in mind that your body and spirit will be tested like never before. Your will power, your reason for running, must always answer that call until you pass the finish line. Remember, the key is to get to your marathon in a happy AND healthy way. Be happy about why you’re doing a marathon. Be motivated.
Pick a Marathon and, sign (up) your life away!
If you want to bench press 500 pounds, you can’t just wish it and ask your bud to spot you without any training the next time you go to the gym. Same idea for running. Exercise common sense when you sign up for races.
Signing up for races is so easy and addictive — fork over some money and with a couple of clicks and a signed waiver form, and you’re registered for a 26.2 mile race — but it doesn’t mean you’re ready to run a full marathon.
Make sure you’re signing up for races that fall in line with your training schedule. For example, if you are running a marathon in four months, do a few 5k’s and 10k’s to start. Then build up to running a half marathon to help you ease into running a full marathon.
Training: Oh, guess this had to happen
Are you ready?! Training is either met with teeming excitement or dreaded. Either way you will benefit tremendously for your marathon if you are trained and prepared to go the distance. The marathon is all about endurance.
First, you’ll want to build a base of mileage — increase your mileage approximately 10 percent per month. Create training blocks in your day by keeping in mind how much time you need for each mile you run. The first few weeks can always be the toughest, NOT the weeks leading up to your peak. In the weeks leading up to your peak and your toughest workouts, you’ll at least be going in with an arsenal of base mileage and will have experienced pain and an increase in confidence. When you’re starting, STAY POSITIVE and take it easy in these first few weeks.
Habits: Yeah, some of these will change
Didn’t expect to get used to waking up at 5 a.m. did you? If you’re serious about training, you’ll have to make some changes in your lifestyle. Keep your eye on the prize by working your training schedule into your life. Your body needs to grow and improve in the months leading up to the marathon. You will be more energized, sharper on the edges, and gain superhero-level stamina as you continue to properly plan out your workouts.
If you’re doing your training right, you’ll be constantly thinking about that sweet moment when you cross the finish line and how to make it to that joyous moment. The motivation will build.
There WILL be growing pains along the way, and you’ll notice. Along this ambitious path, you will start to appreciate the little things in life more. Food will taste better when you’re body is aching post-workout and that grumble in your stomach is finally satisfy. You’ll sleep better and be more grateful when you see your friends after a long day of training. You’ll even appreciate the soreness you’re experiencing on your body because you know you’ve had a hard workout.
So far, does this sound like what you’ve envisioned when you had that hunch that you were ready for a marathon?
If not, that’s okay! Growing pains are all part of the process. The phrase, “If it was easy, everyone would do it” must resonate within your struggles. What follows next will be the fun part — the home stretch of your training, the actual culmination and arrival to your marathon and all that comes with it.
Consider this the 13.1 mile halfway point!