I recall running my first marathon 13 years ago and it feels like it was yesterday. Looking back, I wish I knew then what I know now about training for a marathon. Now at 33 years old, I have twenty one marathons under my belt and I have personal trained countless clients to complete their first marathon and many others to smash their personal best records with lightning fast times. Let me share with you the things you should know before you run your first marathon:
1. It Will Take Time
Before you even register for your first marathon consider the time commitment it will take. Marathon training takes on average anywhere from 10-20 hours per week for 6 months. The large difference in time commitment ranges on whether you have less to a more aggressive time goal. Make sure you can find time for this commitment before you register.
2. Good Things Come to Those Who Train
There have been many days during my marathon training that I had time conflicts, sickness or even just lack of energy but I always pushed myself to run. Good things come to those who train because results are not given out - they are earned. Earn great running results by putting in the proper training.
3. Focus on Quality Miles
You can run 80 junk miles per week and wonder why your running times are not improving or you can focus on 40 quality miles and watch your marathon times miraculously improve. Why? Junk miles are slow and steady miles with no variation in training, equalling low grade results. Quality miles are a variety of running workouts that focus on speed, strengthening and recovery. The maximum running distance in my training is 65 miles per week but this is entailed with quality miles.
4. Find the Best Fuel for You
You need fuel to run a marathon just like your car needs fuel. When you run out of fuel and hit a wall in the marathon you need to replenish your glycogen stores with a snack. Some runners swear by electrolyte gels while other prefer regular food. Experiment with different snacks and find what helps your body to perform best.
5. Do It for the Love
I cannot emphasize running for love more because this makes working out less work and more fun. I love to be thin and in shape, but this is not why I run. I run to destress, focus on my health and feel great while breaking a sweat. If you run a marathon out of passion for the sport you will finish with tears in your eyes thankful for all you have accomplished.
6. You Cannot Eat Excessive Calories
Even though you have increased your weekly mileage, you cannot eat whatever you want. You should focus even more on nutrient dense, healthy food because you are breaking down muscle fiber and need healthy food to help rebuild this. Keep an eye on your calories so you do not fall into the weight gain trap many marathoners do. And after a long run you can enjoy a sweet treat - just have it in a portion control size rather than super-size ;-). Although you are super!
7. You Will Feel Amazing
Finishing your first marathon is a tremendous accomplishment. You will have feelings of pride, thankfulness, ecstasy and muscle soreness of course. Enjoy this accomplishment. It will be something you will remember forever.
Happy Running to you marathoner! So tell me what is your first marathon and what motivates you?