What you should know before running your first marathon

After the New Year’s contest we hosted on Facebook, we realized most of you are thinking about running a 26.2-mile race this year! Congratulations!

For some of you, this year’s marathon will not be your first and you’re already training for the big day. But if you’re a beginner there are probably a lot of questions on your mind right now.

We want to give you a head start by sharing what you need to know before training for, and running your first marathon.

1. Becoming marathon ready takes time and commitment

Training for a Marathon

Training for a full marathon takes time and is very demanding. Depending on your fitness level, your marathon training plan can last more than 18 weeks and suggests that you run up to 5 times a week. Take our App Bundle 5k to Marathon Progression Pack as an example. If you have no running experience, you’ll begin at a slower pace with a 5K training program and gradually move up to a more challenging running routine, until you’re marathon ready. This will take 44 weeks!

Your training plan will include weekends and long runs, which can be very tedious after a few repetitions. So the time commitment and mental challenge is something you should be prepared for if you want to start training for a marathon.

2. You don’t have to lace up every day

Even if you’re excited with your progress and can’t resist to get out there, you should never do more running than prescribed in your plan. Doing too much can lead to injury and overall burnout. Rest days are an important component of any training program, as they allow your muscles to regenerate and get stronger.

You can also build strength, fitness and prevent injury with cross-training, which is any other form of aerobic exercise that supplements your running, by allowing you to use slightly different muscles. Swimming, spinning, aqua jogging, yoga and Pilates are excellent cross-training activities you could combine with your running routine.

3. You might gain weight

While some people lose weight when marathon training, some actually gain weight! How is this even possible with all of the running you’re doing? The answer is obvious: your body needs food to fuel such a challenging fitness activity. But taking control of your cravings isn’t easy and you might find yourself eating more than you’re burning off.

If you’re trying to lose weight or maintain your current weight, try to figure out how many calories you need and focus on eating a healthy, balanced diet.

4. You can get injured

Injured runner

You’ll spend a lot of hours training to become marathon ready, so there’s a chance that you will get injured along the way. Acknowledging this possibility will actually help you to be more aware of injury warning signs. Runners who think they won’t get injured during the training period end up making injuries far worse, by ignoring their body’s signs and pushing through pain.

5. You’ll have to train outside

The treadmill might be your best ally when the weather conditions make it impossible to run outside. But doing all your marathon training indoors may actually sabotage all your efforts.

Since the race is done outdoors and you never know what kind of weather you’ll get on marathon day, you should do some of your runs outside and in less than ideal conditions. The more prepared you are, the better, and this includes running in the cold, heat and rain.

6. You’ll have to buy your running apparel in advance

Don’t buy new running clothes, shoes or gear to wear for the first time on race day. You never know if your new running gear is going to make you feel uncomfortable.

We advise you to stick with your tried favorites and to do a two- or three-mile marathon-pace run in your marathon outfit and shoes, four or five days before the race. This will give you time to adjust your gear just in time for the full 26.2.

This advice applies even if you’re running to support a cause. In this case, stay away from the cotton T-shirts (that usually have the charity logo on it) and choose running clothes made out of a synthetic material that wicks sweat from your body.

7. You won’t forget it

Running a Marathon

Last, but not least, you should know that, despite all the inhuman efforts you’ll make, running your first marathon is a life-changing experience that makes you realize you CAN do anything!

Are you racing this year? What will be your first marathon?

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