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When people think seriously about running their first marathon it usually stems from having a friend talking them into it, it’s on their bucket list, or it is simply a challenge to be conquered. Whatever the inspiration is to start the marathon there is always a journey involved, a path with many ups and downs, a real physical and emotional rollercoaster. Before the process starts you must be prepared.
Get Your Plan:
So the decision is made that you will attempt the marathon challenge, but where do you even start? Well first things first, you need a plan. A person who has been there and done it before; a personal coach, whether it be in-person, online, or a written guide is good for you to follow. Most plans are geared around 16-20 weeks, so the investment of training time is often the first hurdle to overcome. The well structured plan will start out with lower total weekly mileage and will build during the process often including what I like to call ‘testing’ runs. These ‘testing’ runs might be races over 5K, 10K, or half marathons that will aim to help you manage race day situations that might include anything from nerves, packet/chip pickups, race time management, running in a large crowd, and pacing the race.
You need to think about shoes and by that I mean real running shoes. Nowadays there is a shoe designed for all activities and running is no different. You have many options to purchase the right running shoe for you. Online reviews can help you gain knowledge of the shoe market, or you could simply go and get some off the shelf at your local big box store. Both options serve their purpose or you might have a specialized running store close to you. The customer service and knowledge will be better and most likely they will analyze your foot strike on a treadmill, discuss it with you, and then suggest a shoe that is better suited to your personal foot strike and running gait. You see not every shoe brand is equal. Find a shoe brand that works for you and my suggestion is always to stay with that brand.
Find a Group/Running Partner:
This is a big one for the beginning marathon runner. A group, large or small, or that friend that can help keep you accountable is the most important part of the 4-5 months you might invest in preparing to complete your goal of running a marathon. Some days you will be eager to get out and start running, while others you will want to stay home after a long day at work. That group/running partner will push you to get your running shoes on and get out the door. The biggest challenge is often to simply get started. If you have someone to physically get you out the door because you know they are waiting on you to join them on a run, it will keep you consistent and moving in a positive direction to accomplishing your goal. Search Facebook for local groups or do a local Google search.
With all of this training you will have days when you’ll be hungry, tired and dehydrated. So how do you get ready for tomorrow and keep consistency in your training? The trick is to think about tomorrow immediately after you finish your run today. Remember, this is a process and you have to aid it using the right recovery. For the optimum recovery, eat/drink some carbohydrates and protein within the first 30 minutes after your run. Do not forget to stay hydrated. Be sure to drink enough water throughout each day of your training program. This will help your muscles rebuild, repair and recover for tomorrow’s workload.
Running a marathon is not for everyone, but if you prepare for it and are mentally strong enough to stick to your plan, the journey will change you forever.
Image source: Pixabay
I’m Mike Power, an Australian Olympic athlete (5000m, Sydney, 2000) & ex-professional track, road, and cross country athlete. I have been involved with running for 30+ years representing Australia in over 10 international competitions with a best 5K time of 13:23. I’m currently the boys Track & cross country Head Coach at Bentonville HS for the last 11 years with 2 years coaching at the NCAA Division 1 level (University of Memphis). I’ve established marathon training programs in Europe and completed marathons (best 2:48).
Cancer Survivor (since 2010)