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How You Know You’re Ready to Run Your First Marathon

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Are you thinking about running your first marathon? That’s not a decision to take lightly! Training for and running your first marathon is a big endeavor. There are many things to consider but with time, passion, and planning it is possible and very manageable. Below are five reasons to gauge whether or not you’re ready to run your first marathon.

A woman is standing at the finish line of a race. She is wearing a red tank top and black leggings. She is smiling and has a finisher's medal around her neck.

You’re Ready To Run Your First Marathon if You…

1. Want to run a marathon and know your “why”.

Without a doubt, the desire to complete your first marathon must come from within yourself 100%. It cannot be a decision that is based off of what everyone else is doing or what someone wants you to do. Training plus base building and the marathon itself will not be successful if the only reason you are running it is to fit in with other runners or to please someone else.

First of all, figure out why you want to run a marathon. For example, are you running in memory of a loved one? Raising money for a charity? Or, does running bring you clarity and help with stress management? When training gets tough, referring back to your “why” can be very helpful.

My “why” is running for my brother, Robert. I ran my first marathon (the Leadville Trail Marathon) in his memory and have been running for him ever since.

A woman is about to cross the finish line of a marathon. She is wearing a white t-shirt and black leggings. She is smiling and pumping her fists.

2. Have a solid training plan and a coach to work with.

Next, you need to have a concrete training plan and schedule. This means you know in advance how far and what effort level you’re running on any given day.

For instance, with your plan you will know which days are your:

  • Long run days
  • Rest days
  • Easy days
  • Recovery days
  • Speed workout / tempo days (if including those in your training)
  • Cross training days (if including those in your training)

Alternatively, marathon training is not an “I’ll see how far I feel like running tomorrow” type of thing. A well written marathon training plan is very deliberate and the mileage is carefully calculated to keep a person’s risk for injury as low as possible.

If you want to go the extra mile, I suggest working with a coach. A coach can guide you through training, give you feedback, and plan out your schedule. Because some days is can be hard to get out for a run, a coach will even talk you through the mental side of running and training. (Here are 7 Ways to Motivate Yourself to Run!)

As a certified running coach, I would love to help you tackle a marathon. Click here to learn more about my coaching services and connect with me.

A woman is standing at the finish line of a marathon. She is wearing a blue crop top and black shorts. She has a finisher's medal around her neck and is holding a yellow Gatorade.

3. Allot enough time to safely build mileage and run more.

Honestly, this is extremely important and often overlooked.

First, you should have a solid mileage base (about 300 aerobic miles) before entering formal marathon training. Base building can take months and is incredibly important because it significantly reduces the risk of injury, especially for someone who is going from just running a handful of miles to a marathon.

Furthermore, marathon training itself typically lasts about 3-4 months. It should be noted that marathon training and base building combined can take over 6 months! The key here is to plan ahead. If it’s spring and you don’t have much of an aerobic base, I suggest looking into late fall marathons at the earliest.

You also must be ready to devote more time to running. Although you may run the same number of days as you already do, the long runs for marathon training can get very long. For example, your longest run could be 20 miles or 3 hours. (During long runs, I love carrying my fluids and fuel in this Nathan Hydration Backpack). Above all, make sure that you are able and willing to dedicate more time to training. Taking time to consider your life schedule outside of running is encouraged so you can make an appropriate decision.

A woman is standing at the finish line of a marathon. She is wearing a black crop top and black shorts. She also has a finisher's medal around her neck. She is smiling.

4. Don’t have high expectations set regarding time.

Ideally, your top goal should be to cross the finish line. On the other hand, it’s best to stay away from setting any expectations regarding time or whether you run the entire 26.2 miles. Instead, focus on conquering the distance and crossing the finish line feeling proud of yourself and pleased with whatever time is on the clock.

5. Feel excited and a little scared!

Finally, it’s okay to feel nervous and scared. In life if you feel excited and scared, then whatever decision you are pondering is probably the right decision for you. Because really, when have you ever grown from staying in your comfort zone?

When about to take a leap of faith, try to identify your feelings and emotions. If there is excitement and passion, as well as some nerves then go for it!

A woman is running a marathon. She is wearing a blue tank top and black shorts. She is smiling at the camera and giving two thumbs up.

You’re Ready To Run Your First Marathon if You…

  • Want to run a marathon and know your “why”.
  • Have a solid training plan and a coach to work with.
  • Allot enough time to safely build mileage and run more.
  • Don’t have high expectations set regarding time.
  • Feel excited and a little scared.

Comment below:

Are you considering training for your first marathon?

If you have run a marathon, how did you know you were ready?

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