Last Friday’s Fit Tip was How to Pick Your First (Or Next) Marathon, but how do you know when/if you’re even ready to train for a marathon?
Have you been running for at least a year?
Some people say six months of consistent running is enough, but I would say it makes more sense to consistently run for a full year, with weekly mileage somewhere around 15-25 miles. This will get your body used to the pounding on the pavement and will hopefully allow you to work through any potential injuries, shoe problems, etc. before you make the commitment to train for a full marathon. This year of base building will give your body time to make some adjustments to prepare you for the training. It’s also a good idea that you vary your running terrain during this year, meaning that it shouldn’t all be on the treadmill- try to make sure at least half of it is on pavement.
Do you have previous experience with races?
I had never run any half marathons before attempting my first full marathon, but I don’t think that was the smartest thing to do. You’ll be better prepared for the marathon if you have run 1-2 half marathons first, or at least a handful of 10k’s. This experience will help you figure out if you actually even like training and racing before making such a huge commitment as a full marathon. You will get a better sense of what’s involved with the training and race itself and to decide if you truly enjoy long distance running!
Do you have the time to train?
I could go on and on about how to fit in your training with working full time (it’s not always easy, and I don’t even have kids!) But really, you need to look at your personal life and determine if you can make the 18 week commitment to train (which is really how long you should train for to have a good first marathon). If your wife is about to have a baby, or you’re balancing school and work, or you know you have a few really big trips coming up, maybe now is not the time to register for a marathon. Some people don’t realize that marathon training is very time intensive. At times, it may even feel like a part-time job! It’s safe to assume whatever training schedule you follow will probably ask for at least 4-5 days a week and one of those days will involve hours of running (i.e. your long run). You have to be realistic about your other responsibilities to determine if you would have the time to commit to the training. You will need to get family members on board before committing if you’re going to need help with childcare and/or household responsibilities
|Supporting my husband on one of his long runs. It’s important to get the support
of your friends and/or family or a run club.
Besides the time commitment, you will have to make other sacrifices to train. The long runs will take up a lot of time on either your Saturday and Sunday morning, and then there’s the recovery after the long runs. You won’t be able to party hard the night before your long run, so if you’re not ready to sacrifice your social calendar, you might not be ready to train for a marathon.
|Don’t worry…you can still have a beer or glass of wine when training…just don’t go crazy on a Friday night!|
How is your diet?
I’m the first to admit my diet isn’t perfect, but it’s relatively healthy (not a lot of processed food, plenty of fruits and vegetables). Unfortunately, you can’t expect to lose weight when you are training for a marathon, because you will need to eat. You’ll be hungry. A LOT. You’ll need to eat, but you’ll need to eat well in order to train well. If your diet is pretty poor but you’re not ready to make some healthy changes, you may not be ready to train for a marathon.
Have you been cleared by your doctor?
Even if you don’t have a pre-existing medical conditions, you probably should get your primary care doctor’s approval before beginning a marathon training program.
What are your reasons for training for a marathon?
Think about why you want to do it. Are you trying to prove something? Did someone bet you that you couldn’t? This isn’t necessarily bad, but I really think you need to want to run a marathon for YOU. You need to have the internal motivation. Do it for yourself.
Or..are you doing this because it’s the “thing to do?” I mean, it seems like all “runners” run marathons…right? Nope. You don’t have to run one. You can still be a runner without ever training for a marathon.
Okay, so that’s a lot to consider…I hope I didn’t scare you off! I still think training for and completing a marathon is an amazing experience, one that I obviously enjoy enough to keep doing over and over again.