Things I Wish I Knew Before My First Marathon

For many people, completing a marathon is a bucket list item. It can be a challenge that allows them to test the limits of their endurance, or a means to lose weight and gain strength. Others run marathons to raise money for charity. Whatever your reason for embarking on a marathon training program, getting the right training is key.


Get Medical Clearance and Get Started

Running a marathon is a test of endurance. See your doctor to ensure that your body is able to withstand the rigors of a 26.2 mile run. Once you have medical clearance, the next step is to get started. Start at least a year before you plan to run. You will need at least six months of consistently running at your base mileage before you embark on a marathon. Depending on your current running schedule, you may be able to train in less time. If you haven’t been running and jogging regularly, you may need more than a year to train for the marathon.


Start Small and Build Up

Start with a 5K and gradually increase your race levels. Run a 10k, then a half marathon to get acclimated to the rigors of running a marathon. Experts recommend running 20 to 30 miles each week to be ready for the race. Start with your short runs, three to five times each week. Gradually increase your runs and include a long run every 7-10 days to get used to running longer distances. Experts recommend running for 15 to 20 miles once a week in addition to your short runs.


Build up your speed by gradually increasing your speed and quickening your pace. This will not only decrease the time it takes for you to complete your marathon, but increase your cardiovascular endurance.


Keep an Eye on Your Mileage

Most marathon training plans last from three months to 20 weeks. During this time, plan to run at least 50 miles per week in the months leading up to the marathon. Your weekly short runs should be relatively easy. Trainers suggest that you should be able to carry on a light conversation while running. Increase your mileage slowly—do not increase your mileage more than 10 percent each week.


Your weekly long run will prepare you for the endurance of the marathon. Each week, add another mile onto your run. The goal is to eventually build up to a 20-mile run. Trainers recommend scaling back your mileage every three weeks in order to allow your body to rest. Running at a slow pace will allow your body to burn fat for energy–a vital tool in completing your first marathon.


On the week before the race, you should be able to run for 20 miles without stopping. The final six miles will come on race day. Your body’s ability to push past your limits will kick in and propel you to the finish line. The energy from the spectators and the adrenaline from race day will also help you to cover the last six miles.


Fuel and Prepare Your Body

Treat your training regimen the same as you would for the marathon. Pay attention to your diet and fill it with food that provide fuel for your runs. Take vitamin supplements to strengthen your joints and get into a weight training program that will build muscle. Consider Crossfit supplements, protein powder and energy supplements.


Choose the Right First Marathon

There are many types of marathons, from those that take place on flat country roads to hilly, challenging tests of endurance. Some people like to run on familiar paths, while others like to travel to scenic destinations to complete their runs. Still others like the energy that comes with roaring crowds, so they choose marathons in major cities that will guarantee thousands of screaming supporters.


Running your first marathon will be exciting and life-affirming. Training for your marathon is key to pushing your body to the limits and finally crossing the finish line.

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