Any running expert will tell you that you need at least 14 to 16 weeks to prepare for a marathon. Running a marathon is a considerable commitment. While most people find enjoyment in running, taking part in a marathon race is all about mastering your own body and mind. It takes time to learn to take full control of both.
When you push your body to the limits, you have to develop the mind’s ability to take over and tell your body to keep going. You’ll need to find a way to disconnect your body from your mind so each can function independently. Being on your feet for more than four or five hours on a 26-mile distance takes a powerful mind not to let the body give in.
Other than the internal battle between mind and your body, you also have to be clear about why you want to do a marathon. Before you start your long training and preparation, you have to be sure that your personal reason for joining is solid enough to take you to the finish line. When you’ve internalized your reason, then get ready to live up to it for the next few weeks.
For first-time marathoners, there’s no hard rule on the type of training you should undergo and how long your preparation should be. It all depends on what you can commit to. For starters, here are a few tips on how you can prepare for your race.
Since it’s going to be your first time to run, it’s practical to start on the familiar. Ideally, it would be better if you sign up for a local marathon race scheduled for summer. This means you have to scout for races in the early weeks of January or February to give you enough time for training. If you can’t find one, you can choose another that’s relatively close to your home.
Before you register, keep in mind that it may be hard to be on your feet after the race. Prepare yourself for the rough times ahead, and rearrange your day-to-day schedule as needed. If you need to travel for the race, make your reservations in advance before you even start your training. This will add an extra layer of motivation for you in case your resolve weakens during training.
It is true what runners say about racing on new shoes: avoid it at all times. Before you start your training is the best time to get new gear. You don’t have to spend loads on shoes, but do get the pair that you’re most comfortable with.
Get your shoes from a shop that lets you test them out for a few days and allows you to return them if they’re not a good fit for you. Also, make sure you break into your running tanks and shorts. For those who have long hair, you need to choose a reliable headgear, like ponytail running hats, to keep them from blocking your view.
For the first few days of your training, keep track of how long it takes you to finish a run. Your training runs will become more difficult as the weeks go by, but make sure you focus your energy on finishing each one of them. You can worry about improving your running time later on. Try not to race yourself during training as much as possible.
As for sticking to your schedule, it’s hard to get back on track once you’ve missed a couple of days in a row. It’s not the end of your marathon dreams when you miss a training day.
But once you get into the habit of missing one, it gets easier to miss another and then another. Until you convince yourself that there will be other marathons to join in. Resist the temptation to skip. You can always reschedule, but don’t cancel.
Part of your commitment to your first race is to avoid vices. Try to stay clean all throughout. Avoid smoking or alcohol consumption while you’re knee-deep in your training goals. Purging these unhealthy substances from your body will help you get in shape faster. You’ll feel more prepared and fit by the time race day arrives.
Put a pause on your weaknesses, including your penchant for sweets.
Come race day, make sure you invite your loved ones to cheer you on. The energy and confidence boost that comes from the people you care about is essential. You’ll be undergoing probably the toughest physical and mental test you’ll ever going to get in this lifetime. A flash of smiles and loving encouragement from the sidelines as you complete the race can give you that extra spring in your step.