How to Prepare for Your First Marathon
The ultimate dream for anyone who has embraced running is the marathon. Every year thousands of runners have been drawn to the starting line. Most are not interested in winning but in overcoming the mere challenge of completing the 26.2 mile course. However, mastering a marathon is no easy feat and the idea can be overwhelming to the new runner.
“The marathon has been considered the quintessential endurance race for runners…. For many runners, the desire to do a marathon is about personal challenge. You might want to test your limits or prove that you can go the distance.” – REI
Whatever your reason for taking on this challenge there are a few things you can do before the race to give you a better chance of reaching your goal.
Before You Decide
Especially for first time marathoners, you need to know and recognize your limitations. Because of the extreme distances you’ll have to run you are at a far higher risk of suffering an injury than you would jogging around your own neighborhood. The risk of increased stress on your cardiorespiratory, endocrine, and neuromuscular systems is also very high. For that reason, before you decide to run make sure that you consult with your primary care physician even before you start training for your run.
Making the Right Choice
Not all marathons are alike. Yes, they are all the same distance but some are over rough and difficult terrain while others are considered low-key. Do research and carefully choose a marathon venue that will best fit your level of fitness. To prepare, start by running a few smaller and shorter distances (3K, 5K, or 10K) on different types of terrain to see how well you perform. You can also consider volunteering at marathons to get some exposure to other runners to help you choose the right type of marathon for your first choice.
Plan Your Training
Running a marathon involves much more than putting on a pair of running shoes and hitting the road. You need to plan a training routine that will encompass anywhere from 12 to 20 weeks in order to make it a success. Over time you’ll slowly increase your running efficiency and endurance levels. Focus on building up your weekly mileage goals over the months prior to running your first race. Get off the treadmill and start running the streets to get a feel for what is to come. Keep in mind that the more you run in training, the more you’ll be able to accomplish on race day.
Running a marathon will be no easy feat but the feelings of accomplishment and the struggles that you’ll endure will be well worth it in the end.
“Your social life’s loss is your body and mind’s gain: for starters, that extra-inch round the midriff will soon vanish, and there are few experiences more exhilarating than stumbling over the finish line after 26.2 miles.” – Men’s Health
Even if you only plan to reach for a half marathon, taking the initiative and starting early in planning your goals will reap you huge rewards in the end.