If you want to run a marathon (42 km and 195 m or 26 miles and 385 yards), the first thing you need to consider is your motivation. A marathon, like a half-marathon, is not the distance that you can just want to run spontaneously. It's a serious goal and a great challenge for your body. However, I have enough experience to say that due to proper preparation and motivation, any person can run a marathon.
So, think of your motivation and answer a question: why you need that. You need it to beat your own limits? To show someone your results? To be one of the 1% of the world's population, who ran a marathon?
After you have decided on the motivation and purpose, you should start preparing:
1. Decide on the start date
Running is now very popular, so it won’t be difficult to find and choose one of the amateur races in the nearest city. The main thing to remember is that you should start preparing for a marathon at least 3 months in advance. It doesn’t matter, if you are going to get prepared from scratch, or already can cover a 10-km (6-mile) distance. As I’ve mentioned, any marathon is a serious challenge, so you need to be well-prepared for it.
2. Buy equipment
One of the biggest myths about running is that running is cheap. This is not true. High-quality equipment (clothes, shoes, accessories) are quite expensive; and it is very important not to save on them. Keep in mind, the only thing that can help to overcome the marathon distance, protect you from injuries and allow you to run with pleasure is your sneakers. Therefore, you should no way save on sneakers. However, it is extremely difficult to choose suitable ones.
The following parameters influence the choice of a suitable model: your weight, foot pronation, flat feet or normal feet, other foot parameters (such as the arch shape and height, foot width and other), as well as physiological condition of leg and foot muscles. You can’t just go to the nearest popular brand store and buy the most expensive running model. If you have athletes among your friends, ask them for help or take them with you to the store. If it’s impossible, just carefully read the information you can find online.
3. Find likeminded people
Running is sport of self-sufficient athletes. Especially, when it comes to long distance running. Some people enjoy this self-time, while others start valuing it after some time. However, at the very beginning, especially if you have only 3 months to prepare, you will benefit from communicating with likeminded people. You can search for inspiring marathon athletes in your existing contacts or browsing new people on social networks. There are tons of running fan clubs – these people meet from time to time, support each other and have good time together. Such support will help you keep going, even when it’s hard. During these 3 months you may appear on the edge of giving up a few times, believe me.
You can find many options for getting prepared for a marathon online. There are no bad or good training plans. Remember, your main goal for the first marathon is to finish it. Don’t think about the result, don’t try to put yourself inflated bars, just finish the distance.
If you are getting prepared for your first marathon, with the main goal “just do it without suffering, injuries and other problems’ your primary task is to gain volume. That is for 3 months you just need to run as many kilometers as possible, so that the body gets used to monotonous and prolonged physical exercise.
The volume should be counted on a weekly basis. Try to gradually increase the mileage every week. Do a few runs on weekdays and leave long runs for weekends.
A very Important point - the peak volume should be reached 1 month before the planned start. After that, the volume and intensity of training should be reduced to allow the body to restore before the start.
Another key point: you must have time to make at least one long run for 35-37 km (22-23 miles). This will help the body get prepared for the main event – your first marathon.
How to Train for a Marathon in 3 Months
I am going to provide examples for better understanding:
- Week 1 – 25 km (15.5 miles)
- Week 2 – 27 km (16.7 miles)
- Week 3 – 30 km (for example, 6-km (3.7 miles) running on Mon-Wed-Fri and long 12-km (7.4 miles) run on Sunday)
- Week 4 – 35 km (21.7 miles)
- Week 1 – 40 km (24.8 miles)
- Week 2 – 50 km (31 miles)
- Week 3 – 57 km (for example, 10-km (6.2-miles) running on Mon-Wed-Fri and long 27-km (16.7 miles) run on Sunday)
- Week 4– 65 km (for example, 10-km (6.2-miles) running on Mon-Wed-Fri and long 35-km (21.7 miles) run on Sunday
- Week 1 – 47 km (29.2 miles)
- Week 2 – 40 km (24.8 miles)
- Week 3 – 35 km (21.7 miles)
- Week 4 – 30 km (18.6 miles)
Now there are many mobile applications out there that you can use. Enter your parameters, experience, and the app will create a good program for preparing for a specific start. Also, it will remind you of your routine running with the help of push notifications. I would recommend these two:
- Nike Running (nike.com)
- Gipis (gip.is)
Once again, the main goal for the first marathon in life should be finishing the distance. You goal is to finish with no suffering, cramps, injuries or health problems. To get there and have fun on the way, to feel joy, not relief at the finish line.
Keep in mind – you should be honest with yourself. If you give up training and remember about it just 3 weeks before the marathon - please don’t start this time. If you get injured 2 weeks before the marathon – please don’t start this time.
Important: any sports (including running) should be beneficial, not harmful. This is just another opportunity to run a marathon, so take it easy that this time it may not work as planned. Just choose the next start and start preparing for it. Take care of your health, it’s No. 1 priority.
And one more thing: these emotions from crossing the finish line compare to nothing. This incredible feeling is worth efforts you put to preparing and running a marathon.