Registering for a marathon, especially for your first one, takes some courage and deliberation. I first started thinking about running a marathon about six months before I registered for my very first, the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon. It was when the 2005 race was happening when I got the idea in my head, and when registration opened about six months later, I jumped on the bandwagon.
And obviously, haven’t stopped since. 😉
As more and more people register and run marathons, it becomes an appealing idea for people who have run forever or just picked up the sport (YAY!).
However, before you register for a marathon, ask yourself these three questions to gauge if you are ready:
Do you have a solid base?
Throughout the course of marathon training, you will need to build up how much you are running and in order to do so without risking injury, you need to have a solid base. Most experts recommend that you have at least six months of solid running, four to five times a week, with at least 20 miles a week. It depends on your plan, but you will likely start out in that range at the beginning of marathon training.
If you don’t have a solid base, to build it up, only increase your mileage by about 10% per week. This is recommended in order to stay injury free. Often times, marathon registration opens up far before a race, so think about how you can steadily increase your base within the 10% rule before you approach training.
Can you dedicate enough time to run 30, 40 or even 50 miles a week?
I signed up for the Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth after I ran the 2006 Twin Cities Marathon. I was really excited to run it, and thought it would be my chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon. From the time I registered to when it was time to start training, I started a new job and was so overwhelmed that I didn’t have a spare minute to dedicate to training or thinking about a marathon.
Anyways, beyond being free and able to run on marathon day, think about the weeks leading up to it. Do you have time to dedicate a weekend day morning to your long run? Can you manage to squeeze in your runs before or after work? Will you be traveling during training, and how will you manage that? Figuring this out will make marathon training much less stressful (and even more successful!).
Are you ready for training to take over your life?
No matter how you try, it will feel like marathon training is the essence of your life. You will likely have to skip happy hours and social events with your friends. There will be times when you have a stack of housework to do, but all you can physically gather enough strength for is to get into bed.
There will be times when you don’t want to set your alarm on a Saturday morning to get in that long run, but you need to. Everything will start to revolve around marathon training — from your eating habits to what clothes you wear — and it’s something you need to be prepared for as you go down the path to marathon training.
What else do you think is important to think about before signing up for a marathon?
What was the first race you ever run? What made you decide to sign up for it?
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