Marathon training isn’t like training for your average 5K

By Ea Francisco | Photo by Martins Zemlickis/Unsplash

Everybody seems to be running a marathon these days. However, don’t just go in head first at the next marathon you hear. Here are some things you need to consider before signing up for one.

Know Your Limits

One thing you have to remember when picking your first marathon is to be realistic. It’s not going to be like running a 5K or 10K. An average marathon is 26 miles or 42 kilometers long, but some take longer and an ultramarathon is twice that distance. You have to first understand the condition and capabilities of your body. If you can’t handle that distance, aim for a half marathon first then work your way up. If you’re really set on doing the full marathon, pick one at a later date because you need a lot of time to prepare. Even experienced marathoners spend two months to prepare.

Consider the Course

While the distance is one thing, you also have to consider the course. The kind of course you’ll be running would affect how you train and run—from city roads and hills to rocky paths. Either way, pick a course that suits your strengths.

Do a Long Run

One of the first things you have to get used to is a long run. This helps prepare your body to handle the full distance. Long runs are for building endurance and conditioning the body to keep going after you exhaust yourself. While you’ll probably still get tired, this helps lessen the risk of injury during the latter parts of the marathon. Runner’s World suggests doing this at least once a week but start at a conversational pace.

Build Mileage

You have to get used to long runs. If you’re not an active runner, start by gradually building your mileage. Remember that you shouldn’t go too long right away. Many experienced runners say that you should only increase your mileage by 10 to 20 percent each week.

Build Pacing

While it varies, speed might not be the first thing you need to worry about. It’s better to focus on finishing, so you have to find a pace that works for you. Not to say you shouldn’t have time goals, but you can easily lose what you gained in the beginning if you end up too slow at the end. For your training, don’t go too hard right away but gradually add speed as you go along.

For a lot of people, just being able to finish is an achievement in itself. There’s no doubt there is an unexplainable feeling of accomplishment after all those months of training.