Running a marathon is a big deal. Not only is the act of running the marathon tough on your body, but training takes its toll, too. If you’re smart, you’ll wait until you’re mentally and physically prepared to train for a marathon before you sign up for your first one. But, how do you know when you’re ready to sign up for your first marathon?
You’ve been running for at least a year. Your muscles adapt to running pretty quickly, but running also puts stress on tendons, ligaments, and bones, which adapt more slowly. Increasing your mileage too quickly can put you at an increased risk of getting a stress fracture because your bones haven’t fully adapted to the stress of running. To be safe, run shorter distances for at least a year before training for your first marathon.
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You’ve finished a half marathon. Or, even better, you’ve finished a few half marathons. Running shorter races will allow you to practice training for longer distance races. You’ll learn how to fuel and hydrate on long runs and you’ll have the experience of running a race, all things that will help you on marathon race day.
You don’t have too much on your plate. Training for a marathon takes a lot of time. Dealing with major life changes or big projects at work can compete with the time you’ll need to train and recover. For example, I tried training for a marathon at the same time I was planning my wedding and ultimately didn’t wind up running the marathon because I just didn’t have the time to train properly. Try to think about all of your obligations before you decide to run a marathon.
You have a reason to run a marathon. After a few weeks, it can be tough to wake up early in the morning to go on a run. It’s easy to skip a run, or two and then suddenly you’ve taken a week off. Having a reason to train will help you get out of bed, whether it’s something as small as a mantra or quote you recite to yourself or something as big as running for a charity. Having a reason to get your feet on the pavement will ultimately help you get in the training you need to cross the finish line.
Marathon veterans: How did you know you were ready to run a marathon?
Are you currently training for a marathon or another race?