Thinking about running a marathon? You’re not alone. The number of people signing up for marathons has increased dramatically over the past decade. The market is now saturated with run-cations, virtual races, and other unique race concepts that cater to every type of runner. If you’re thinking about signing up for your first 26-mile race, take a deep breath. It’s going to be okay. Even though it might seem like everyone is running in a marathon these days, the truth is that it’s still one of the hardest things you can do as an athlete. To train for your first ever marathon, start with these 5 simple steps:
Know Your Why
The very first step to preparing for your marathon is to know your why. Before you even start training, you need to know why you’re doing it. Why are you signing up for your first marathon? Why do you want to run 26.2 miles? What do you hope to get out of this experience? Understanding why you’re training for a marathon is the most important factor in your success. If you don’t have a clear idea of why you’re doing this, you’ll get discouraged and quit before you ever cross the finish line. Knowing your why is crucial to staying motivated and finishing your first marathon.
Training for your first-ever marathon is hard work. But don’t worry, it’s supposed to be! If you want to complete your marathon and finish with a smile, you need to train smart. The key to smart training is to start slow. Begin by building a solid foundation of base running. The base period should last 3-6 months, depending on your race date and your fitness level. During your base period, you should be running tempo runs, long runs, and other continuous movement patterns at a lower intensity. You want to focus on building a strong aerobic base and increasing your running mileage. During your base period, increase your weekly mileage by no more than 10% each week. If you’re running 40 miles per week, try adding 4 miles the following week and 4 miles the week after that. Continue to slowly increase your mileage until you hit your desired mileage goal.
During your base period, you’ll focus on building endurance. But what does that mean exactly? Endurance training is designed to help you increase your lactate threshold. This will allow you to run faster for longer periods. Endurance training also helps you increase your VO2Max, which is the maximum amount of oxygen your body can process in one minute. To build endurance during your training, try adding tempo runs, long intervals, and hill training to your weekly routine. Tempo and long intervals are designed to improve your running speed — a must for all competitive runners. These workouts focus on continuous movement patterns at a faster pace. During your hill training, you’ll focus on increasing your strength and power, while improving your overall running form. To build endurance, try adding long intervals and hill repeats to your weekly training schedule.
Master Your Marathon Day Plan
If you’ve ever run a marathon before, you know that it’s all about the day-of plan. You can train harder than any other athlete, but if you don’t have a solid day-of plan, you can’t expect to perform your best. To master your marathon day plan, you need to break your entire 26.2-mile race down into smaller segments. If you’re racing for time, decide on a pace you want to hit for each mile. If you’re racing for a specific place, determine how much time you want to hit for each mile. Make sure to account for all the factors that could affect your race. Will there be hills on the course? Is it a hot day? Will it be windy? What’s the forecast? The more you can prepare your day-of plan, the more confident you’ll be during your marathon.
Don’t Forget to Celebrate!
Finally, don’t forget to celebrate your success! After all, it’s only fitting that you celebrate your first marathon. Whether you’re going for time or placement, crossing the finish line is an incredible achievement. It’s something that only 0.5% of people ever accomplish. Whether you’re training for a one-time 26.2-miler or a lifelong commitment to running, it’s important to remember to enjoy the journey. And don’t forget to enjoy the fruits of your labor, too! Sign up for a race that offers post-race meals and swag. And, if you’re feeling celebratory, why not host a marathon viewing party with your friends and family?