One of the things that you will notice when you run your first marathon is how many different types of people marathons attract. Seriously. You will see hundreds of people that you would never expect to be marathon running types. Fat people. Old people. Very young people. Some of it will be inspiring. Some of them will just make you wonder.
All that is to say, if you think you want to run a marathon, then you absolutely should do it. Chances are there is someone who is older, or younger, or fatter or skinnier, weaker than you that has already done it.
If you want to increase your chances of succeeding, however, there are some basic tips you might want to consider when planning and training your run.
Find or Create a Realistic Training Plan
No matter what your situation, training is key. Very few people can just get up off the couch and run 26 miles. Fewer still can do it without injury. The good news, however, is that your body is made to adapt. If you train sensibly and realistically, you will greatly improve your chances for success.
There are no shortage of website that offer to help you create a training schedule. Some of them are free and others offer you an opportunity to enroll in a paid subscription service. There are benefits to both. Just weigh the advantages and choose what’s best for you.
The most important things is to take into account your current level of fitness, the number of weeks until your race, and the amount of time you have available to train. Be realistic. Give yourself more time than you think you will need to get up to speed. The marathon is a race, but getting to it should be a carefully planned process. Pushing your schedule will lead to overtraining and a greater likelihood of injury.
Set Achievable Goals
If this is your first marathon, the best and most useful goal is to finish the race. Time is not important. It helps to have some idea of what time you would like to finish with, don’t get obsessed with it. The most important things is to prove that you can go the distance. Think of your first marathon as a training run for your future marathons. You are learning what you can do, establishing a training baseline for future races.
Watch what you eat
In the middle of all your short runs and long runs and interval training and all that, remember to pay attention to what you eat. You don’t need to be a food Nazi but better quality fuel for your body leads to better quality output. Eat a balanced diet so that you can eat enough to give you the energy you need to train. If you are overweight to start and you are training hard and not losing weight, try seeing what happens when you cut back on sugars and starches. When it comes to running, leaner is meaner. You will enjoy your run more if you have less to carry.
Get a Coach or Mentor
Connect with someone who has done it before. It doesn’t have to be a race guru who runs a marathon a month. In fact, you might learn more from someone who recently ran their first marathon. Remember, you aren’t necessarily trying to set a new world’s record. The advice of another (more experienced) novice may be more useful to you.
Congratulations on moving toward your goal. Just be getting up and getting moving you are joining the physical elite of our nation. Work hard, be smart, be safe, and most of all, enjoy your run.