Am I Ready for a Marathon? Tips and Advice Before You Start

Am I ready for a marathon? Many runners ask themselves this question, often after completing a half marathon or two.  Embarking on a 26.2 mile running goal requires time, money, and good planning.  Recently I was at the grocery store, when I struck up a conversation with a girl about running.  She eventually made her way to the million dollar question, “When will I know that I’m ready for a marathon?”  I told her, “The only thing holding you back is yourself.  If you believe you can do it, then you can!” 

Apparently, this was a lesson I had learned subconsciously during my own journey to the dreaded 26.2 mile hike.  Having gotten through my own struggles, I had learned a valuable lesson; having faith in yourself is the first step to putting a dream into motion.

[As of 9/11/2012, only about .05% of the U.S. population had completed a marathon]

Like many things in life, if we don’t believe we can achieve it, we won’t.  First, you have to believe in yourself.  If you can run the 13.1 miles that a half marathon requires, why can’t you double that?  You can!  Lucky for me, I had several friends to push me along the way, reassuring me when self-doubt set in.  I probably would have never even attempted a marathon if it weren’t for those friends.  They knew how much I loved running, and began asking me when I was going to sign up for a full marathon.  Half of me thought they were crazy, but the other half wanted to prove that I could do it.

I signed up and began learning the ins and outs of marathon running.  I didn’t become a professional by any means, but I learned some things along the way that helped me to achieve my running dream with ease.

Other factors you should consider before registering for your race: TimeDo you have the time to train for a marathon? 

With long runs on the weekends topping out at 20+ miles, you will need 10-20 hours a week dedicated to training.  Of course, this also depends on your speed; someone running  7:15 minute miles will require less time than someone running 11 minute miles. You may also want to include some cross-training into your routine. I personally recommend staying active on your off days by adding in biking, kettlebell workouts, or swimming. 

These low-impact workouts will add endurance and (most importantly) strengthen your core, making you ready for a marathon.  Don’t worry though; you will have rest days (at least one a week.)

Money – Can I afford to run a matathon?

It costs money to run marathons – not only to register (average cost $67), but to fuel your workouts.  Much like stock car racers fuel their engines, we must fuel our bodies to achieve our desired performance.  Some runners use energy gels or powerbars to replace calories, electrolytes, and carbs.  These little packets of energy can be great, but they aren’t cheap. 

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You could use all natural foods to meet your nutritional needs, but it will still cost you money.  I don’t use energy gels or power bars, but I do stock up on pasta, bread, chocolate, avocados and olives – to name a few.  The last three help me to maintain my weight as I burn 6,000+ calories a week during training.  It’s normal to see your metabolism skyrocket during this period, requiring you to eat more.  During my last marathon, I saw a 30% increase in my grocery bill.

Still have questions about running a marathon?

After reading this, you may find yourself questioning (even more) your ability to complete a marathon.  That was not my intent.  The purpose of this article was to get you thinking about a plan – a plan to make your dream come true.  Believe that you can make it work!  A friend of mine (who has a wife, three kids, and a full-time job) recently completed a 100-mile ultramarathon.  His living situation was far from ideal to train for such a race, but he made it work.  Sheer determination forced him out of bed each morning at 4 a.m. to tackle his long runs before work. 

He and his wife discussed (and agreed upon) this goal beforehand, as they both knew that she would be assuming more responsibility with the kids.If money is your dilemma, ask people to donate.  Most races are for a charitable cause, so asking for donations is somewhat expected.  I had several people to donate when I ran my first half-marathon. I was racing to fight child-hood obesity, a problem that affects more than one third of children and adolescents. 

I sent out a Facebook message to my friends asking for help to see if I was ready for a marathon, and I received it.  It’s funny how easily we can get help if we just ask for it. Have you thought about running a marathon, but feel that you aren’t ready?  Are you worried that you can’t make it work with your busy lifestyle?  This week, I encourage you to sit down and make a plan.  Figure out what it would take to make this goal of yours come true. 

Talk to your family members and friends to see what they think. Ask if they would be supportive.  Write out a list of things that are holding you back and figure out a way to work past them.  If you have questions, visit our forum and ask them there. 

We are more than happy to help! Click here for more training tips!  “What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”? Robert H. Schuller

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