The marathon is a race like no other. 26.2 miles is a staggering distance. It’s a distance that simultaneously intimidates and inspires.
While I think nearly everyone can do ‘some’ kind of running, I don’t necessarily think everyone can (or should) do a marathon. But, I completely understand the desire to do one.
If you’re mulling over the marathon, there are a few questions you should ask yourself before you pull the trigger. If your answer to all (or most) of these questions is ‘yes’, it might be time for you to get ready for 26.2
Do you have enough time to train for 26.2?
Training for 26.2 requires time. I am not just talking about the time it takes to complete a long run. I am also talking about the time it takes to properly prepare for a beastly long run and recover from one.
Nutrition and hydration might have given short shrift while training for other distances, but you don’t have that luxury with the marathon. You need to be well hydrated and fueled for your long runs. This likely means getting up early prior to your long runs to get something in your stomach and throw back some fluids.
You also need to leverage the 30-45 minutes immediately following a long run to expedite the recovery process. This typically involves stretching, hydrating, re-fueling, foam rolling, and possibly taking an ice bath.
Independent of the the time demanded by a typical long run (before/during/after), a marathon training cycle consumes plenty of time. It’s inevitably longer than training for any other distance. If you’re in half marathon shape, it will likely take you 3-4 months to prepare. If not, it could be more like 5-6 months (or longer).
Make sure you have the time to commit to training before tackling a marathon.
Do you have enough training to give your first marathon a shot?
If you’ve never done any kind of running before, going from 0 to 26.2 may not be the best idea. Running is an extremely taxing activity and it’s a major undertaking just to simply get into the kind of shape where you can run on a regular basis. If you’re coming off the couch, I would recommend spending a year (or more) simply getting into a regular running routine.
If you’re running for the first time, Try to simply get comfortable with the act of running. Log a couple half marathons. Then, give the marathon another look.
If you’ve already got a few half marathons under your belt and a few years of regular running, it might be a good time to stare down 26.2. Of course, this assumes you’ve got the time (and inclination) to do so.
Are you ok with the increased risk of aggravation/injury that comes with training for 26.2?
The incidence of aggravation and/or injury increases with those training for 26.2. If you’re currently recovering from an injury or are injury prone, this is something to consider. While I love the marathon, every serious running injury I have incurred has been associated with training for this distance.
I don’t share this to take the wind out of your sails, but I’d be remiss in my role as a coach to not make you aware of the risk associated with training for the marathon. I don’t want any of my runners getting injured. If you follow a quality schedule and take care of your body, you might be just fine. But, there’s a chance you might hit a speed bump during your marathon training that sidelines you.
Just keep this in mind.
Do you want it bad enough?
You might have the time, training, and absence of fear around getting injured, but the last question you should ask yourself is the most important one. Do you want it bad enough?
Training for a marathon is a daunting endeavor no matter what kind of shape you’re in or what kind of running experience you have. It’s a serious commitment. Your social life might take a hit. Other interests and/or hobbies might need to take a back seat.
The marathon demands concessions and compromises in order to prepare for it. It involves a large investment of time and energy. It also does involve an increased chance of injury.
So, you really need to take a long look at all of these considerations. After you’ve done so, you need to ask yourself ‘Do you want it bad enough?’ If after doing so, you still desperately, passionately, undyingly want to conquer 26.2, go for it. I will do whatever I can to help!