A very, very, VERY novice runners guide to training and running your first marathon.
First, GO YOU. Seriously, I know you’re terrified that you’ve accepted the challenge, registered, verbally committed, etc. If you’re like me, the decision was made a year in advance so I had a WHOLE YEAR to worry and panic :).
Second, let me say I am NOT AN EXPERT. Of anything. Not of running or health or even blog writing. This is my advice based on my personal experience. What worked for me, may not work at all for you! And certainly if you are an experienced runner, you may laugh your head off at my tips and tricks and that’s okay. I’m just trying to help out the folks out there who feel like running a marathon is a complete impossibility but are still brave enough to commit!
So, here they are. My tips for running your first marathon:
You need a decent base. My base is a 3 mile run, 3 times a week that I try to run in as close to 30 mins as I can. Sometimes less, and I’m trying to get faster, but that’s my norm. If you are brand-new to running, start by working up to a 5K. Take as much time as you need to train for that! Not everyone can achieve that level of endurance and fitness in the same amount of time. Once you can comfortably run a 5K, work up to a 10K and eventually a half-marathon. I feel like the half-marathon was vital step for me before training for a full, but everyone is different! You may feel ready to train from the beginning! That’s okay too!
You need at least 20 weeks of Marathon Training. I know. Four months seems like a LONG time to commit to training, but your body needs it. You don’t want to rush the process and risk injury.
Find a 20-week plan that works for YOU. I don’t care who created it or what worked for your runner friends… This is 20 weeks of your life. If you know that 6 days of running is next to impossible for your lifestyle, DO NOT PICK THAT PLAN! For me, 3 days of running and 1-2 days of cross training is mostly manageable for me. The plan we found gave us an optional cross train day and an extra easy run day that we elected to skip and it worked just fine.
TRUST YOUR PLAN. Don’t look at week 15 when you’re expected to run 5 miles, then 5 miles, then 18 miles and flip out and quit before you have even started. Just DON’T. Take one week at a time, one run at a time, and trust that your body is prepared to handle each next step.
Listen to your body. You will learn the difference between just being in a funk and not wanting to run (in which you need to drag yourself there and pat yourself on the back when you get it done!) and when you’re body is sick or injured and you need to sit that day out. It will happen. Stuff comes up. That’s why it’s so important to have a 20 week plan.
Invest in some good socks. People talk about running shoes a lot and they are the most important equipment a runner uses, but people don’t always talk about the socks. For me, Balega Hidden Comfort No Show Running Socks are what works. For you, it may be something different. I had a lot of trial and error until I found these socks and I’m SO glad I finally found them! They are awesome!
Shoes. It has to be said. You have to spend time in your shoes to make sure they will work for you. Make sure you have several weeks of long runs in new shoes before planning to run in them for the Marathon. And those Nikes you got on clearance aren’t going to cut it. In fact, I don’t know a single runner who runs in Nikes or any of the highly marketed shoe companies. Do some research or go to a Running Specialty store and get tested to see what they recommend. I have a decent arch, have a mid foot strike, and push off of my toes pretty hard when I run. I’ve had great experiences with Saucony, Hoka, and Altras. The Hokas and Altras offer a wider toe box that I love. I still have issues with blackened toe nails, but I think it’s just because I push off so hard from my toes, particularly on my right foot.
I'm just a girl, a mom, a wife, but most of all a daughter of The King. I love coffee and very dark chocolate and sometimes I do things like run half marathons and write stuff. I also happen to have Multiple Sclerosis. My goal every day is to choose JOY!
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