Have you ever been inspired to run a marathon after seeing TV coverage of one of the big city marathons? The emotional scenes from races like London, New York, Boston or Chicago have often been the reason for many first timers to tackle the distance and it’s hardly surprising given the stories that emerge from these famous events.
Many people watch them, get inspired, but then quickly lose their motivation and give up. Don’t! If you’re healthy and get clearance from your doctor then you can run a marathon. It’s seen by many to be one of life’s achievements and when you’ve done it you can totally share that view. Months of training culminating in one of the most amazing days of your life …it’s unforgettable and for many is the start of a long and enjoyable running career.
Here are some of our tips to achieving the marathon goal
Give yourself plenty of time, but not too long! Work on general fitness. Don’t give yourself too much time though because it’s easy to keep putting it off. How long you need obviously depends on your base fitness level.
Join a running club or a gym that operates a running class. This will give you the advantages of coaching and other people to run with. There are bound to be others either at your level or who have been and can help you in your challenge. Alternatively find a training partner. It can be a real motivation if you can find someone to run with on a regular basis. You can compare progress and help each other out if things get a bit tough.
Don’t overdo it in the early days. It’s easy to get put off when you start marathon training as you might feel progress is slow and the distance that you’ve got to reach seems to be so far away. Don’t worry; you’ll get there if you pace yourself.
Don’t be put off by the weather. If you live somewhere prone to spells of cold or wet conditions, don’t let it stop you. There are ways of getting around this like training on a treadmill in the warmth of a gym. There is also some great gear available now and if you follow the principal of layering, you shouldn't have too many problems. Dark nights can be a problem, but don’t let them stop you either. Your longer runs at the weekend can be done in daylight and if you do two or three treadmill runs during the week, you’ll never have to venture out in the dark, unless you want to.
Enter a few races before your big day. Start with a 10km, then a 10 miler, and then a half marathon. This will help you get used to running in the ‘event environment’ and help you with things like taking water from drinks stations etc and the pre-race build up. The bigger the race the better, although the first one should probably be a smaller one of a few hundred runners. Some of the big half marathons can be a great learning curve as they can have fields of many thousands and give you a real feel for what it’ll be like on marathon day.
You can do it even though there will be times when you don’t think you can. Running a marathon will give you a buzz that’s hard to describe, particularly in a big city event with the added bonus of the crowd support and it’s something that virtually all of us can achieve.