After selecting your first marathon, it's time to spend the next three to four months training yourself, both mentally and physically, to cover those 26.2 miles.
Even if you've sworn this is a just bucket list item and you're "one and done," you might as well enjoy the process. You don't need the most scenic training route, a perfect partner or fancy treadmill to have a fantastic first marathon.
The following tips are 10 steps you can take to make your first marathon training experience enjoyable and fun.
1. Prepare Mentally
Life happens. One or two missed runs aren’t cause for alarm. But long runs are the cornerstone of training for most new runners. It’s not just about the workout, it’s about mentally believing you can cover the distance. There will be bad runs. Those runs will make you question this entire endeavor. Know that it’s normal, then look at what you’ve already accomplished, reach out to a running friend or coach…then keep going.
2. Pat Yourself on the Back
Feel free to be completely in awe of yourself every single week. Each time you pass a new milestone, shout it from the rooftops. You might think it’s small beans if you read too many running blogs, but it’s not. Less than 1% of the population will ever do a marathon, you are a rock star and deserve to be recognized each time you have a new milestone. (This also helps keep motivation high!)
3. Find a Strategy, Not a Training Plan
A strategy is a plan of action to reach a particular goal. There will likely be bumps along the way and a solid strategy will have a back up plan and tactics to keep things moving. It’s more than a training plan, which is simply a calendar of workouts. A strategy involves dissecting how this goal fits into your life. How will you adjust the family schedule to incorporate more runs? What will you do on weekends where that’s not possible?
Consistency is KING for any marathon training. Run at the same time or on the same path on certain days to create a natural rhythm to your life for the 18 to 24 weeks of training. It becomes a habit, making it easier to follow through with. Lack of consistency is the easiest way to fall off track and end up regretting your decision to ever sign up come race morning.
Realize that you don't "have to" run, you are a lucky person that "gets to" run. You have people in your life that make it possible for you to have the time to run, you have a body that allows you to run, and crazy people like me who encourage it. This is your choice.