You’ve reached that point where you’re thinking of stepping up to the full marathon distance. Whether you’ve run half marathons before or you’re just starting out running and want to aim high, sometimes the thought of 26.2 miles can be daunting…and so it should, it’s quite a long way!
When you do finally take that leap and register yourself into the event, that’s the start of your marathon journey, right there. And in most cases it will be one of the best things you’ve ever achieved in your life.
But where do you start?
One of the first things many people do, is to share the fact that you’ve got that golden marathon ticket with the world. Whether you post it on social media, Whatsapp your work colleagues or just ring your Mum and say ‘What have I done?!’ this is the first point you realise that the challenge is on and it’s very real. Lets go!
One of the second things you need to do before getting out running is to make sure you’re fully prepped for what’s ahead.
Well we already know you’re a bit mad for signing up in the first place! But really, you need to make sure that you’re fully invested in the challenge and that you have that dedication behind you and you’re ready to commit to the training to make sure the big day goes as smoothly as possible. It’s going to be tough, but so, so worth it.
Whether you’ve just twisted your ankle playing football, or are recovering from a serious illness or operation, it’s worth booking in with your GP for a quick health check to see if you’re fit and well. It’s not going to be a walk in the park. So you need to make sure you’re body is ready.
Get Kitted Out
You don’t need to spend a fortune on running gear but you DO need a pair of new trainers before you hit the road. As you’ll be clocking up a fair few miles, head to your local running shop to get kitted out with a pair of trainers that suit your running style and posture, and that support your feet in the right way to avoid injury.
Invest in some breathable leggings, shorts and tops and also a reflective running jacket for when you’re training on those cold, dark mornings and nights. It’s worth updating your running playlist too, to keep you going and to help pace yourself on those long runs.
Don’t over think it and be realistic
There is a tendency to religiously follow a training plan, especially if it’s your first marathon, however you don’t need to follow it mile for mile – have a search online for training schedules and programmes and make sure whichever plan you choose is realistic with your own routine. It’s about being able to fit the training around your life, not the other way round. If you over think it and put too much pressure on yourself, you might not enjoy the training as much and this could ultimately put you off.
Build up the miles gradually. Don’t go all out too soon or you’ll risk injuring yourself or losing interest early on. It’s about finding that ‘marathon pace’ and settling into a rhythm that you feel you can keep going at for a while. Even if your first long sessions are a mixture of running, jogging or walking, it’s good to build up your base fitness before you go out non-stop.
Make a note of the miles you complete each week too – download a running app so you’ve got everything stored on your phone, or use a good old fashioned pen and paper to look back on your progress and you can see how far you’ve come and where you need to improve.
If you can persuade one of your friends to sign up to the marathon with you then great! This will help massively in your training and keep you motivated. Having another person to run with is great for company but also means that it’s hard to say no to a training run. After all you don’t want to let anyone down. It’s also nice to know that you’ll have someone to talk to about your challenge, lean on for support, and be by your side on the big day.
There’s safety in numbers too!
Will it take over my life?
Training for a marathon is a big ask, but it shouldn’t take over your life. Yes you will have to adapt certain things and maybe sacrifice a few drinks on a Saturday night – but this is something you should try to embrace and enjoy. You’ll hopefully be getting fitter, stronger and faster and doing something amazing whether it’s for charity or for yourself. You’re not only making a difference to your life, but you might be inspiring others to follow in your footsteps too!
Remember why you signed up
There will be tough days when you’ve had a late night or you just can’t drag yourself out of bed in the morning but just remember the reason you signed up in the first place. Think about the charity you’re raising money for and all those who have already donated. Think about that Sunday Roast or sweet treat later that you’ll earn from burning calories, or just the feel good factor when you come back from your long run!
This feature was originally published on the Great Run website. Visit the site to see more hints about training and nutrition.