Running a marathon… the great white whale for most runners. Many people run races, and many of those runners have considered running a marathon. But how do you know if you’re capable of tackling such a feat? Here are 9 quick points that will help push you off the fence, and over the starting line… To run or not to run? That is the question…
1. You like “RUNNING”
Yeah… kind of an important one here. You don’t necessarily have to love running, but if you like it and it brings you some type of enjoyment, that will be the best foundation for marathon training. However, I’m reminded of the quote, “Run often, run long, but never outrun your joy of running.” The last things you want to do is burn yourself out on running, and not enjoy it anymore. At that point, is completing a marathon even worth it?
2. Shorter runs “BORE” you
If you are considering a marathon, you’ve probably completed other shorter distances… at least we hope so! Most runners work their way up through the distance ranks; 5k, 10k, half-marathon, etc. If those races are fun but leave you a bit bored or wanting more, maybe you are ready to commit to tackling the full marathon distance!
3. You are “Patient & Dedicated”
Unless you are a freak of nature, or one of those super fit people as regular folks despise, that say things like, “yeah, I just decided to run this marathon last week. Didn’t even train at all!” You are going to need to dedicate time for training. And know that you’re not going to be ready quickly. Most training plans take 4-6 months… or more! If you put in the time and follow the plan, you’ll be ready.
4. You don’t mind alone time
Being alone while training is something that you really have to come to terms with. Shorter training runs aren’t so bad but when you start getting into your 10+ mile training runs, it’s typically just you and the pavement for 2+ hours at a time. If you can embrace this and look forward to this time to listen to new music or be alone with your thoughts, you’ll do just fine. Running alone can be therapeutic; Runtherapy if you will. If you have a hard time with the solitude, try enlisting a friend crazy enough to train and race with you. Or look into local running groups or communities. Chances are you’ll find another similar runner that would prefer to train with another runner as well.
5. You are “Injury Free”
If you are prone to injury, or have any nagging injuries, those tend to be amplified by marathon training. To really get into proper shape for a marathon, you need to stick to a training schedule. Those schedules can be gruelling and unforgiving. Running through injuries can make them worse, and taking time off for injuries to heal can put you way behind. Take care of yourself and heal before tackling marathon training. You’ll thank us for this one down the line.
6. You are or can be a “planner”
Planning is the easy part, execution is the tough part. So, if you can’t even plan well… oh boy are you in for it. Planning starts with picking the right race for your ability and interest that is far enough out to accommodate a training plan. The next step is finding the right training plan that fits your running style, ability, and busy life outside of running.
But then comes the pre-race and race day prep that needs to be planned out. What will you eat and drink the days leading up to the race? Will you get your packet on or before race day? What gear will you need on race day depending on conditions? Where do you park and how far is the walk to the starting corral? What is your food and hydration regiment going to be? All of these fine details need to be planned out weeks in advance. Not the planning type? You might have a hard time.
7. You know why you are “Running”
The demand your body and mind will go through while training for and completing a marathon will likely be the toughest thing you ever do. So knowing why you are running and keeping it top of mind will help you get through the tough times. When you are tired, alone, doubting yourself and your brain tells you it’s OK to stop; you need to dig deep and remember exactly why you need to keep going. Is it to prove to yourself or someone else that you can do it? Want to jump-start you getting into better shape so you can lead a healthier, longer life? Is it to honor a friend or family member that is sick or has passed away? Whatever your “why” is, knowing it will help you get through the tough times and will make it that much more meaningful when you cross the finish line.
8. You & loved ones are willing to sacrifice
Training for and completing a marathon is a commitment that will impact your day to day life. If you have loved ones such as friends, a spouse or kids that depend on you being present, you should consult with them before you commit to anything. Training is obviously going to eat up a lot of your time, but it’s also going to have an impact on other areas in your life: Diet, if you are trying to get in shape, or eat right the day before your long run, you likely won’t be able to eat just anything. Your Body; you are going to be sore or tired. Maybe that means it’s early to bed or you don’t feel up to playing with the kids. Also, injuries and lost toenails are not uncommon… just sayin’. So talk to those you care about and let them know the pros and cons that come with training for a marathon. Having their support makes the whole process way less stressful, and way more fun!
9. You are a bit of a “Masochist”
Let’s be honest here… training for a marathon is hard freaking work that will put you through the absolute ringer. You have to be a little crazy and “like” pain a little to put in hundreds of training miles and to ultimately run for 26.2 straight miles. It’s OK to admit you’re a running masochist, but we wouldn’t go around advertising it. Lol.
Hopefully, these 9 points have helped you determine if you’ve got what it takes, or are even interested in running a marathon. We realize that no two people are alike and their motivations and abilities are all different. So at the end of the day, you just have to do what’s right for you. But either way, we’re here to help fuel your body and your mind along the way!