This weekend I received an email from a reader in Germany asking about how to start marathon training. First and foremost, I want to say thank you for writing to me! Whenever I get an email from you guys it makes my heart smile. Plus, I can’t help but to want to travel to all of these fabulous places that you all are from! GLOBAL ROAD TRIP — HOLLA!
But on a more serious note, it’s a great question that I wish I had a little guidance on when I first started. With my personal training ramping up, I thought I’d share a few of my favorite tips with you. However, please remember that I am not a professional and can only share with you my two cents. Marathon training is completely individualized – so please listen to your body and do what works for you.
Below are five “essentials” to start marathon training. Of course there are tons more (if there weren’t, I wouldn’t have anything to talk about on the blog everyday). So check ‘em out and let me know if you have any questions.
1. Build A Base
Before anyone sets out on a 16 or 20-week journey to marathon training, you need to have already established a solid running base. We don’t build our houses on grass…concrete, people, CONCRETE!
Ensure that you are able to easily run for at least a solid 45 minutes straight 3-4 times a week for at least a couple of months before beginning any program. Again, I am not a doctor here, so please listen to your body. Once you are able to do this, we can begin looking at beginner training programs. Hal Higdon has a great base training program that you can find here.
2. Pick A Training Plan & Prepare To Stick To It (As Best As You Can)
One of the most confusing parts of training for a marathon the first time is picking what training plan you’ll use. The two that I keep coming back to are the Runner’s World Rookie Marathon Training (I used this for one of my firsts) and Hal Higdon’s Novice 1 Training Plan. They are simple to understand, not too overwhelming and ease you in the entire training process. Make sure to choose a plan that has at least four days of running per week, and at least one (if not two) rest days per week.
3. Invest In Good Shoes & Some Wicking Clothes
I used to buy shoes because of the color, brand, the way that I thought they felt, or because some kid in a referee jersey threw out a bit of running jargon. Little did I know just how important shoes are. Given that running can be a fairly simple sport to get into (all we really need is shoes, right?), it’s crucial that the one piece of equipment that you do have works with your body, not against it. So please, for the love of Mac ‘N Cheese, go to a running store where running professionals can analyze your foot and stride to put you in the perfect shoes. Expect to put down anywhere between $80-120, but it’s incredibly important.
The only other clothing investment that I would say is an absolute must is “wicking” clothing. Clothes with “wicking” material (like Nike DriFit) wick the sweat off of you to help you stay cool and can prevent chafing. You can find some pretty great wicking gear at Target and TJMaxx these days.
4. Be Prepared To Devote Time & Sacrifice A Bit
You will go to bed and wake-up early on both the weekdays and the weekends. You will most likely have to make difficult social choices (e.g. sorry, I can’t have that cranberry and vodka tonight. I have my long run tomorrow). You will spend a majority of your time in workout clothes and your husband will hate it. You will chafe and your toenails may fall off.
But why do we do it? Just wait until you cross that finish line…everything will become crystal clear then. Just trust me on this one.
5. Get Organized
You may have heard me talk about this before, but with work, relationships, family and a semblance of a social life, you’ll need to stay organized. For me, this is ensuring that I have access to my training plan wherever I go (see my tips for that here), my friends and family are aware of the my goals so they can be supportive, oh, and my Netflix treadmill set-up ready to go. Check those links out for the deets!
So here comes the cheese: I really believe that anyone can run a marathon. For all of those folks out there that say that they just can’t run, well, I’ve got news for them: NO ONE starts out an amazing runner, or even liking it for that matter…well, unless you have Olympic athlete in your blood. When you start running I will almost guarantee that it will not be fun. In fact, you will probably hate it.
You will hurt.
You will be sore.
You will want to throw in the towl about half a mile down the road.
But if you keep the end goal in sight and your ass in gear, I guarantee that you’ll grow to have a slight obsession with my BFF running and the high that comes with it. Plus, then we can all go on a blogger run together and that sounds like a win-win situation to me!
For all of those folks who have already started marathon training, how did you start it? What is your one essential marathon training tip?