Thinking about running a marathon but not sure where to start? We feel you. Running 26.2 miles isn’t simply about the race, it involves training, nutrition, equipment, apparel, and of course, having the right mindset. Before embarking on this lengthy journey, ensure that timing is right for you to commit to a rigorous, committed schedule, and that it is something you are passionate about doing; Without passion and drive, the process will seek to overwhelm you, as opposed to empowering your mindset. There are a lot of amazing resources available for every type of runner, and the marathon they seek to conquer, and we encourage you to learn as much as you can! As you get started on your marathon quest, understand the facts and basic breakdown for a training schedule, healthy living routine, and the best marathon courses for first-timers.
Understand your timeline, and set your schedule.
Based on your experience level as a runner, you may need to adjust your preparation time. If you are new to running, you can assume that it will take close to a full year to build yourself up to tip-top marathon shape, physically and mentally. On the flip side, if you are a more experienced runner who has completed other race distances, and runs often, you may only need 3-4 months for a proper training. Be honest with yourself and identify where you fall, and research a training routine that works best for you. On average, you can expect to be running 4-5 times a week, with a weekly “long run” included. Runner’s World, Women’s Running and Active.com offer great training advice for beginners. Once you have your training schedule, print it out and hang that baby up proud!
Be patient with yourself.
Baby steps. That’s what it takes to run a marathon, because each part of the process is quite literally a stepping stone to the next. There will be highs and lows, when the physical and mental challenges threaten to overcome you; this is to be expected. Heck, you’re looking to run 26.2 miles, that’s a big thing to accept!
Don’t rush into your training, work your way up to the distances and paces over time. Be realistic and honest with yourself. Having a time goal is not the best representation of your quest for your first time around; set goals that are realistic and make the most sense for you.
Find the perfect shoes, and apparel.
What girl doesn’t love shoes? Here’s your chance to find the best ones. The perfect fit is based on stride, foot, terrain, and more; visit a shop that has experts who will review your physical and external factors when deciding on the perfect shoe. Train, practice, and run some more with these shoes to break them in. DO NOT wear new shoes on race day.
If you’re running for 6 months you’ll have enough time to discover what type of clothing is most comfortable for you to run in – do shorts chafe? Baggy tees too floppy? Tanks too tight? Work that all out ahead of time, so you know what to wear for any weather on race day.
Nourish your body.
Running a marathon isn’t just “running” – you need to do a lot of other work too, and that includes eating healthy. Your body needs proper nutrition, lean meats, and protein to help you be in optimal running shape. Maintaining a strong, nutritious eating habit is essential when your body is constantly being pushed to the limits during endurance training months at a time.
Additionally, just like apparel, you need to test food products during your long runs; find out what works best for you. There are a lot of water and fuel stops along the route filled with sports drinks, water, gels, goos, bars, you name it! Test these ahead of time, and stock a few on your person during the race.
Rest when you need it.
No one knows your body better than you, so rest when you aren’t feeling 100%. If you feel a cold coming on, are crazy sore, or your ankle is slightly puffier than it should be, take a day off! It’s better to relax and refresh your muscles and body, rather than worsening a situation.
If you’re running a local race, run the route! Figure out the tricky spots throughout your training. If you’re traveling to your race, without the opportunity to get on the course, study the route and what past runners say about it. Familiarize yourself with what to expect, so there are as little surprises as possible on actual race day.
Choosing the Best Marathon Races in the U.S. for First Timers
Location: Austin, TX
Date: February 19, 2017
Registration fee: $140-$145
ASICS LA Marathon
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Date: March 19, 2017
Registration fee: $180-$205
Location: Eugene, OR
Date: May 7, 2017
Registration fee: $95-$115
Bank of America Chicago Marathon
Location: Chicago, IL
Date: October 8, 2017
Registration fee: $185-$210
Location: Honolulu, HI
Date: December 10, 2017
Registration fee: $45 early entry – $125
Walt Disney World® Marathon
Location: Orlando, FL
Date: January 7, 2018
Registration fee: $175-$205
On top of the physical, there are a lot of lifestyle changes, and commitments that prepare you for the marathon – but only you can make it happen. We believe in you – go girl!