Most of us have at least one point in our life have contemplated running a full marathon. This is an excellent goal and can be accomplished by anyone, but not without putting in the work! Whether you have fully committed or not, I want to help position you for success.
There is no right or wrong way to train for your first 26.2; however, there are some guidelines that you need to know before you start the weeks of training that lie ahead. Some of these things may seem scary now, but there is no greater feeling than crossing the finish line!
#1 Make sure you are ready
It is not safe or smart to run a full marathon without training. I understand we all have bucket lists and goals, but you can’t just wake up and run 26.2 miles. Ideally you have run a 5k, 10k, and Half-Marathon before jumping into a full marathon; however, this is by no means a requirement. I signed up to run a full marathon before ever running a half (Go big or go home right?). Running a full marathon requires a couple of months of solid training. This can be accomplished running anywhere from 3 to 6 days per week depending on your goal and time you have available. If you can commit this time, then you are more than ready to tackle this challenge.
#2 Train Smart
As mentioned previously I would not recommend running less than three days per week for at least two months before your race. This time will allow you to safely build up mileage, without getting injured. Jumping to 30+ miles per week without a proper build up will likely find you injured or burn out. Adding roughly 3-5 miles per week with adequate rest will allow your body time to recover and adjust to an increase in training volume.
#3 Don’t skip the weights
Injuries are a part of running, but they don’t need to be. More than likely if you are reading this you are already part of the Arsenal community and performing regular resistance training. By strengthening your legs (Particularly your glutes and hamstrings) along with your core and arms not only will you feel better in the late miles, but your injury risk will significantly decrease. Schedule your workouts around your runs and make sure to hit the weights 2 or 3 times per week.
#4 Listen to your body
How many runners do you know that have nagging injuries? Too much, too fast, too long all lead to injuries, this is why training smart is so crucial. The newer you are to running the slower I recommend the build-up be. Give yourself enough time to slowly accumulate miles and recover between runs. Following a plan is a great way to go about doing this, but make sure that if your body is telling you to rest you listens. One run is not going to make or break your race.
#5 Find the right shoes
Sounds silly right? Finding the right shoes for you will play a huge factor in the whole avoiding injury thing. The shoe that you have worn for your 5k might not be the same you should wear for 26.2 miles. The best thing you can do is head to your local running store (Pro Bike and Run or Fleet Feet) and get fitted by them. They won’t always get it right the first time, but you can always return them if they don’t work out. This will take some trial and error, but once you find the right shoe, you will know. Also, make sure that you start to track how many miles you are putting on your shoes. Most shoes start to break down around 250 miles, so you will probably need two pairs when training is all said and done.
Once you determine an appropriate plan for you, create a log or print out a calendar. As mentioned earlier, it is not life or death if you miss a run, but you have to put in the work to achieve your 26.2 goal. Long runs are the most important of these and should never be skipped unless you are injured. Finding a training partner is a great way to be accountable and can also make long runs much more enjoyable! After all, it’s much more bearable to suffer with someone else. Embrace each run and never look back and before you know if you will be a marathoner
Questions about where to start? Click here to meet with a coach to start planning your training strategy!