Are you Ready to Run a Marathon: Answer These Questions
Marathon; even reading the word evokes strong emotion for a lot of runners. For those thinking about training for and running in their first marathon, the emotion is understandably mixed: fear, excitement, confusion, curiosity, determination, hesitation and every other emotion in the Webster’s Dictionary. A wise runner will really take the time to evaluate if they are ready for all that comes with running a marathon. And will also understand that what comes with training for a marathon is a myriad of things both physical and emotional and is very different for everyone. There is an openness and vulnerability that one should be prepared for.
Are you contemplating running a marathon? Ask yourself these questions.
Are you Willing to Learn from and Listen to Others?
The most crucial piece in preparing for a marathon is accurate training. Being new to the marathon a lot (if not almost all) of your training plans and preparation will be information you receive from others and through research. Ideally, you will be training with a group or around others who are not running their first rodeo. Their advice and application of running principles are tried and true and based on experience. While you do need to take advice, you also need to make sure that you apply all advice with a grain of salt. Like any race or run, you need to make sure you do what you know works for you.
Do you Honestly have the Time?
Training for a marathon does not take double the time of training for a half marathon, it takes more. There is a reason that you double your half time and add ten minutes to get a rough estimate of your marathon finish time. You get tired on the back half of those long runs. Often after long runs, your energy the remainder of the day is lower, you want to nap and all you want to do eat (everything in sight). It takes much more time to train for a marathon if you do it properly. There is also a lot more time spent stretching, foam rolling and altogether soothing very tired muscles.
Are you Willing to Handle Setbacks?
A marathon and its training are not for the faint of heart. There will be setbacks. Those setbacks can come in a variety of areas. You could be training with a friend who has to bail or gets injured. You yourself could get injured or encounter shin splints, plantar fasciitis, get the flu, catch a respiratory infection that makes running a bit more difficult, you could have to miss a normally scheduled long run or two and have to reschedule or skip altogether, the possibilities are endless. The point is that the setbacks are only as bad as how you view them; do not get discouraged. Remembering that one “bad” run, one “off” day or even one “rough” week can be part of the process and is to be expected.
Have you Increased your Mileage or Run a Half Marathon?
Working towards the goal of 26.2 miles has a method to its mileage buildup. Moving from only ever running a 5k to a full on marathon is do-able but can be a bit harder than it needs to be. Having the experience of understanding what your body does when you build mileage is helpful and can help you anticipate your nutritional and sleep needs. Having run a half marathon before is helpful for two reasons. First, 13.1 is a long enough distance for you to have needed on course nutrition and been “on your feet” for an extended amount of time. Secondly, there is a chance the half marathon(s) you ran with folks that were continuing on in the race to a full marathon. While you did not experience the race after the split you did feel the ambiance and were on course with people planning and pacing themselves to run a full. Having been witness to the race day on-goings will help you know what to truly prepare for and also possible, what to avoid.
Will you Take Care of Yourself?
Seasoned runners often neglect themselves to the point it can become a detriment to their runs before they really begin to pay attention to their body. When training, each piece of your day matters as it relates to the whole of your self. You need to be getting enough rest. While life does get in the way and no one is telling you when to go to bed, you need to get in the bed at a consistent time each night and when you are tired. Do not fight your body to binge on Netflix.
Paying attention to your diet is also important. Making sure you have enough of the right calories is just as important as making sure you don’t eat at every fast food joint in sight and crank up your blood pressure. While you mileage increases and so should your calories intake, to a point, what you eat and not over-indulging is just as important.
Hydration is pivotal. You don’t need to carry around a water bottle if you don’t want to but strategically placed water (desk, nightstand, car, next to your recliner, etc.) so you can drink it without thinking will help ensure you avoid any of the annoyances of mild dehydration and dangers of severe dehydration.
Anyone who has ever run a marathon will tell you with clear caveats that you should absolutely run a marathon. It’s a life experience that cannot be described until experienced and once on the other side is 100% positive. And you’ll begin to understand the old adage is true, “There will be days you cannot run a marathon, but today is not that day.” And you just might seek to see how long you can make that statement true.