So you want to run a marathon. You’ve got your “couch to marathon” or twenty week training schedule all mapped out, and a route similar to the race topography picked out and a new pair of running shoes sitting in your closet ready to go next to your recovery sport slide sandals. You’ve got big dreams of graduating to one of the prestige races one day, like the Boston Marathon or even something exciting overseas. You grill your friends for advice and can’t stop bringing up your runs you’re so excited. You going to do this. You’re going to crush it. But wait, first, how do you get started?
All that prep we just mentioned is absolutely essential, and getting psyched is a must. It can be a little harder to translate all that stoke into first steps though, even if you have a training plan outlining how many miles to go and what times to aim for. After all, you’ve got a long way to go and a long time to get there, and a lot of this is going to be hard. Really hard! Here’s how you can get started, stay committed, and not burn out before you cross the finish line.
Start slow. Yes, even if it feels painfully slow. Even if you’re impatient. Even if you feel like you could or should be running further, faster, or harder. You’ve got to forget everyone else. Don’t look up how Flo Jo prepped and ignore Bob at the water cooler who thought five minute miles were a piece of cake the first time he tightened his laces. Go too fast or too far too soon and you could get injured, or frustrated, or both. This is about you and your body and what you can get done right now. 29,978 runners registered for the 2018 Boston Marathon. None of them ran the race the exact same way.
The old saying goes that running is 90% mental and only 10% physical. The same can be said to life beyond the time spent running. It’s not just track time that will determine your success. Don’t forget to adjust your lifestyle off-route. That means eating the way a runner needs to eat instead of the way you ate before. It means paying extra attention to hydration, even when you’re at your desk and not sucking down energy gels at mile seven.
You might reconsider your sleep schedule, or picking up a yoga membership or membership to a pool so you can alternate your runs with movement-based recovery. Speaking of recovery, invest in some tools that will help you bounce back from your runs and avoid injury.
You need more than just a good pair (or two, or three) of broken in running shoes. You’ll also want comfortable, moisture-wicking running clothes— you’d be surprised how hot and uncomfortable a t-shirt can get after 26.2 miles. Surely you need no explanation for why a very big jar of petroleum jelly or running lubricant might come in handy.
For after your run, foam rollers are all the rage right now, for good reason. A pair of OOFOS sport slide sandals will give your feet instant relief after you run, too, and can help you avoid the kind of strain that could contribute to conditions like plantar fasciitis. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You aren’t always going to get in your workout. Sometimes a meeting will come up and force you to stay late at work. Your best friend will have good news and want to celebrate at happy hour. You’re going to wake up and Just. Not. Feel. It. That’s ok.
Your training plan is an important resource, yes, and is designed by experts who know what it takes to built up to a marathon. But you know your body, your mind, and your life better than anyone else. So if you need to cut a planned run and spread your miles out over a few other days, if you need to dial a planned increase back to rest a pulled muscle, that’s ok. Cut yourself some slack. This is your run.
With these four tips in mind, you’ll find it less intimidating to tackle this huge project you’ve undertaken. Last but certainly not least, don’t forget to enjoy yourself. That’s what will help you succeed even when you’re having the kind of day where running doesn’t seem fun at all. Take good care of yourself, too. Whether you finish a run feeling like you’re the queen of the world or like you’re a bowl full of old noodles, be proud you powered through. Yank off those dirty running shoes and slip on your sport slide sandals. Feel the OO. Remember why you run.