When I first started running, training for a marathon never sounded appealing to me. It had never been one of my bucket list goals, and I’d never felt any desire to know what it felt like to push my body to its physical limits.
Even by the time I signed up for my first half marathon (which was also my first ever race) nearly 7 years ago, I still didn’t give it much thought.
My family members had decided to conquer a bucket list goal, and I jumped on the bandwagon without really thinking it through.
I definitely questioned my decision many times once training began, but as soon as the race was over, I knew I wanted to do it again.
My journey to the marathon distance was a rather common one. I completed a half marathon first and loved it. I couldn’t believe I accomplished the distance, and was eager to see what else I could complete.
There is something incredibly addicting about long distance running.
The fact that nearly every person questions their ability to complete the distance prior to running it for the first time is what makes the accomplishment so great.
Runners have a hunger for more. Once we begin, we realize that we can accomplish more than we ever thought possible. As we start checking goals off our list, we wonder what else we could accomplish if we really tried. Our limits suddenly expand, and we find ourselves planning for something we used to believe was truly impossible.
Like running your first marathon.
The marathon is a distance that has challenged me, chewed me up, spit me back out, and still left me wanting more. I’ve experienced few things in life as addicting as distance running, and am forever thankful that to have discovered this sport.
Maybe you’ve run a few half marathons now and are ready to take the natural next step. Maybe you’ve increased your fitness this year after losing a lot of weight and want to make a bold statement. Or maybe, running a marathon has been on your bucket list forever and are finally feeling confident enough to commit to running 26 miles.
Whatever your journey has been, it’s one that has led you to the place seen by few others: you’re ready to train for your first marathon.
The marathon has to be my favorite distance of all time. Training for my first marathon allowed me to accomplish new distances each week. Each Saturday my watch would beep and tell me “congratulations, you’ve set a new distance PR!”. My first marathon is an experience I will never forget – one that has changed my life completely.
If you are training to run your first marathon, you are about to have the experience of a lifetime. Enjoy the journey, even though it’s not always pretty. And no matter what you do to get to that finish line, know that you are preparing to accomplish something that only 1% of the population has completed! You are already a champion.
Here are some tips for anyone training for their first marathon. Whether race day is just a few days away or you are preparing yourself to start a training plan, here are 9 things to know before running your first marathon.
9 Things to Know Before Training for a Marathon
Commit to it.
Make sure you are 100% committed ahead of time – don’t enter training unsure of whether it’s something you want. Set your sights on your goal and promise to complete the training and preparation necessary to get there.
Related: How to Have Your Best Long Run Ever
Plan for it.
You can’t run a marathon without training (or maybe you can, but I’m sure it would not be very enjoyable)! Once you’ve decided that this is something you are going to do, set a race day and find a training plan.
Plan out one day each week to dedicate to long runs, set aside time to complete your week day runs, and create a plan to fit in regular strength training and recovery.
Develop a schedule that will allow you to fit those runs in without creating too much havoc in your weekly schedule.
Focus on distance, not speed.
Running your first marathon is all about running far – not fast. Narrow your focus to one main goal: completing the distance.
Pushing yourself to increase your pace while increasing your distance at the same time will likely only lead to injury or burnout when training for your first marathon. Focus solely on completing the distance before setting ambition time goals.
Practice fueling and hydration.
Practice makes perfect! Training is the time to experiment with different types of fueling, water bottles, and timing so you know what works best on race day.
Once you find the perfect formula, stick with it and keep it consistent throughout training. This way your body will know what to expect on race day, and you’ll know how it is going to respond.
Related: Fueling Tips for Your Next Long Run
Celebrate the small accomplishments.
While every run during marathon training is not a long run, there is still definitely something worth celebrating each day. Celebrate the fact that you’ve made it this far, that you decided to sign up to begin with, or how strong your body is becoming. Enjoy the process!
Accept the fact that suffering will be involved.
I have yet to meet someone who has trained for a marathon and enjoyed literally every second of it.
Be prepared that training isn’t always going to be sunshine and rainbows. Running a marathon is hard, and training is usually even harder. You will have some terrible runs, and no doubt want to quit at points. Pushing through those tough spots is what makes us stronger, and the more you endure during training, the more prepared you will be for race day.
Remind yourself why you started.
Speaking of those tough moments – always remind yourself why you started in the first place. When you feel like quitting, remind yourself of the motivation and excitement you had at the beginning. Remind yourself why you wanted to do this and use it to push through the hard moments. It will be worth it in the end.
Hold yourself accountable and stay consistent.
If you are relying on someone else to hold you accountable during training, you are so much more likely to fail. Hold yourself accountable each and every day.
Remember that you are training for a marathon because it’s something that you wanted to do. Stick to your training plan. Understand that life happens and it’s okay to miss a few runs, but be able to tell the difference between an unpredictable circumstance and laziness.
Increasing your mileage really takes a toll on your body! No matter how many miles you fit in, your body is not going to get any stronger if you aren’t allowing it time to recover.
Invest some time in stretching, strength training, and foam rolling. Plan for this extra time and don’t skip it! Your body is accomplishing some incredible feats during training, so give it the respect it deserves.
Download this free 30 Day Strength Training Challenge (for FREE) to hold you accountable during training!