How to know if you're ready to run a marathon
Few things in life hype me up more than Marathon Monday. Yes I my marathon time is nowhere near a Boston Qualifier. And yes, I have not seriously trained for a race in over four years. Yet every year watching elite athletes and real life friends both — I am reignitied with a fresh passion for the sport of running.
It's around this time of the year when new possibilities are flowing and the same idea comes popping back into my head. "I should run a marathon this year." It's also around this time of the year when my job is the busiest. So although the idea pops into my head it quickly fades and truth be told I'm ok with that. I've run my fair share of marathons and I know the race will be there should I have time in my life to train again. The best part? The older I get — the slower the qualifying time becomes — which in my mind only improves my odds.
But maybe running a marathon is new for you. It's on your bucket list, it's the next logical step in your running, or maybe all your friends are doing it and you just want join them. How do you know if you're ready? How can you be certain that it REALLY is a good idea? I can't promise you'll ever be 100% ready - but here are some questions to ask yourself to find out if you're close enough.
How long have you been running?
The marathon is not a beginners race. Sure there are programs that exist that promise to take you from 0 - 26.2 in 20 weeks — but they make me cringe and I wish it was not a thing. While I applaud the sheer mental toughness it takes to go through something like that as a beginner — it more that likely also results in injuries during training and / or later down the road.
Elite marathoners spend years training before making their marathon debut. They go through several solid training cycles, and mastering shorter distances before taking on that ultimate challenge. Ideally you should have 1-2 years of running behind you and 2-3 half marathons under your belt before committing to the marathon.
How much free time do you REALLY have?
It's important to consider that training for a marathon is a serious time commitment. Sure we like to make jokes that marathon training takes over your life - but they're funny because they're true. If you have a demanding job that doesn't offer much flexibility, or frequent commitments outside of work you might want to consider sticking to shorter distances.
This is not to say that busy people cannot train for marathons. Busy people can do anything - but you have to be ok to prioritize. If you are already involved in a soccer league,
Do you have a good support system?
So you're good with the commitment it takes to train for a marathon. Check. But what about your friends/family/significant other? Are they on board? Are your friends going to understand when you can't do happy hours on Friday nights? Can your partner handle a little extra load on the household side so you can focus on your training? Do you have someone to turn to when you need help with accountability? Part of your success will be your determination, and part of it will be who you surround yourself with - so make sure youre tribe is a good one.
Do you LOVE running.
I know you like running. You enjoy running. But do you LOVE it. Like jump out of bed and can't wait until the part in your day when you get to do it? If you aren't absolutely head over heels in love with it? You better be because you and running are going to be seeing so much of each other! Run a marathon because you love running, and fired up with passion about the sport. Not because everyone else is doing it and it would be cool. Because 12 weeks into training you will be pretty miserable.
Are you free of injuries or ailments?
Nothing is worse than having to defer a race because of an injury. Make sure you start your training cycle healthy because you never know what can happen along the way. Get a gait analysis. Spend time strength training. If you have a nagging pain in your hip, back, knee etc. do yourself a favor and get to the PT because marathon training is only going to make it worse. You are better off addressing the issue head on and getting to a stronger place and then starting a training cycle instead of being sidelined with a more serious injury.
Is your head in the game?
Do you struggle to stay focused and calm when things get tough? Do you fall apart mentally a the end of a race or a tough long run? Being mentally ready to tackle the marathon is just as important as the physical and while you can certainly practice the mental side during training, it's better to be in a good spot from the start.
If you can answer yes to most of these questions than it sounds like you're ready to take the plunge. If not - no worries - it's nothing to get discouraged over. If a marathon is still on your mind and you want help making a plan to get there - let's chat - I'd love to work with you to help you achieve your running goals!
What is the scariest thing about running running a marathon? Loosing toenails? 20 mile runs?