Marathons are the gold standard of running achievement. Those who can complete an entire marathon are usually looked on with a fair bit of awe, as most people simply can't imagine running twenty-six point six miles just for the thrill of competition. The truth, though, is that almost anyone who is in good enough shape to run can complete one of these marathons. All you have to do is learn how to train properly.
Training for a marathon requires a mix of conditioning, preparation, and mental fortitude. It's a long race that may well push you to your limits, so you'll have to start with a solid plan. Fortunately, many people have proven that you can go from a non-runner to a marathon runner in a remarkably short period of time. Your goal should be to follow in their footsteps and to determine if you can push yourself to accomplish this kind of fantastic fitness goal.
Why Run a Marathon?
There are plenty of great reasons to run a marathon. For some, it's a natural extension of the running training that they've already done. They may have competed in 5ks or 10ks, but they now find that they're bored with the smaller challenges. Increasing the length of the race can be the best way to keep pushing yourself forward while running.
For others, it's about tackling a major challenge. Marathon length is truly daunting to most, so merely being able to finish is quite a feat. There are some who look at a marathon and want to become the kind of person who can actually finish twenty-six and a half miles in a single day.
Still others run marathons strictly for the marathon training. They want to get into fantastic shape and they feel like running is the best way to do so. Whether they're engaging in half marathon training or they're looking to complete a full race, their real goal is to get in good enough shape to prove that they've got what it takes.
Preparing for Training
Unfortunately, it's impossible to simply decide that you want to run a marathon and jump directly into the most strenuous parts of training. The vast majority of people just aren't in the kind of shape that makes hardcore training possible, so most do have to step up their efforts in order to get where they'd like to be.
The primary bit of preparation you'll need to do involves building up your ability to run. The best preparation is to start small, alternating running and walking as far as you feel comfortable at least three days a week. As you get more comfortable, you'll stop walking and start running the entire way. Eventually, you'll start pushing for longer and longer runs each day, incorporating them into your fitness routine. As you reach the various common running tiers like 5km, 10km and half marathon, then you can participate in shorter races before moving up.
A huge part of preparation is also starting to learn about what your body needs. You'll want to invest in the right footwear and clothing for running, as well as paying attention to how you run so that you don't damage your body in the long-term. A little research can help you to perfect your techniques before the next step.
Once you're comfortable running a long distance, it's time to start the real training. The best way to do this is to continue to push yourself in terms of mileage, of course, but also to start looking at what it actually means to compete in a marathon. The best way to do this isn't necessarily to throw yourself directly into a full race, but rather to start entering smaller races so you can get used to long distance running.
If you've never run a long race before, you'll want to work up from a 5k to a 10k, eventually making it to a half-marathon. If you have run before, try to do a race that's twice as long as you've run before. Once you've finished the race, you'll both have a good idea of your current fitness level and learn what you need to do in terms of resting and recuperating once you are done with a major race.
Training for a marathon means alternating between pushing yourself, assessing your capabilities, and recuperating so that you don't harm your body. Too many people do too much too soon, leading to lasting injuries and hampering their plans to do more. If you're willing to put in the effort to train at a reasonable pace and to push yourself when appropriate, though, you should be able to complete a marathon far faster than you might imagine.