What it’s really like to train for a marathon

The marathon. It’s something like the golden egg in the long distance running world. Something that most long distance runners aspire to complete at some stage in their running career. There is something about putting your body through 3-6hours of pain that appeals to us, and so, we endevour to attain the title of ‘marathoner’ not matter what it takes. But is training for a marathon as easy as it seems?

As we flick through our instagram posts and facebook feeds we see most weekends someone somewhere has completed a marathon, or perhaps it’s their tenth one and you find yourself thinking, ‘this can’t be that hard’……’can it?’…

To be perfectly honest a marathon is a big deal.

Remember back at the time when you aimed to run your first km. And it was tough? Well, times that by 42 and add a little extra. It is going to hurt.

So why do it? Well, why not? Training the body to do something as huge as the marathon and to physically and more so mentally accomplish something so amazing is a great thing to do, but this is what it is going to take…..

Time: You thought that you were busy, well prepare to get busier because every minute of your waking hours are going to be preparing for your marathon. If your not running, you will be thinking about when you will be running and you will be planning when you are running. You are going to need time and lots of it. Time to get out for your run. Time to rest. Time to plan your training. Time for your long run and time to refuel.

Sacrifice: There are things that you will have to sacrifice during your marathon journey. One of them is your time (see above) and then there is things like going out (because you have a long run early the next morning remember), oh and scrap that drinking session too as (long run) 🙂 Plus there is sacrificing time with your family and friends because you will be out running. Sure, you can make it work around them, but it is going to involve them so plan well and everyone will be happy.

Guidance: A marathon is something that you are going to need help to prepare. Wether you take on a coach to help you train, or get help from online or friends who have been there before, you will need guidance. Guidance with your training, diet, fuelling,  recovery and mental preparation. Seeking out people that have run a marathon before and asking them questions and advice is going to help you on your road to a successful race experience so surround yourself with those that can lean in and give you that guidance that you need.

Training: There is going to be a lot of training. Running 42.2km is a LONG way. I remember when I was training for my first half marathon and I didn’t know how I would get to 21.1km at the 16km mark. Well its double that distance and you are going to need to train. You are going to have to build yourself up for this distance. This can take some people a long time and others can work up to it faster, but as a general rule you want around 3 months to train for a marathon and build your distance up slowy. Not only will this prepare you for your race, but it will prepare your body to adapt to the training loads that it will require to run up to 42.2km and decrease your chance of injury. The number one worst mistake in training for a marathon is building your distance too fast and this leads to injury and can lead to no race at all.

Recovery: Not only will you have a lot of training, but you will need ample recovery. This can be in the form of active recovery like a gentle yoga session or a walk or swim or total rest days. Making sure that you take your recovery seriously will determine how well your training will go, limit injury and ensure race success. Over training will just lead to injury, fatigue and burn out and probably no marathon.

Money: Yes, money. Running marathons doesn’t come cheap. There is the gear. you are going to need at least one, if not two to three pairs of good quality running shoes during your lead up and running of your event. You may need race packs if your running on trail for hydration and of course you need clothing. You are going to need to pay race entries and if the race isn’t in your home town, flights and accommodation for your event. You will be eating more to fuel your body more and re-fuelling it after your training, so your grocery bill will rise. And don’t forget those maintenance checks like regular massage or physio to keep you nimble and free from injury. Marathon’s can be expensive and most cost over $100 to register!

Commitment: If there is anything your going to need, this is it. There are going to be times in your training when you are going to hit the wall mentally, physically and emotionally. You need to know that you have got this. You need to be totally committed to your end goal of the finish line. After all it is your commitment that gets you up at 4am for a 30km run, your commitment that keeps you going when you just want to sleep and don’t feel like running and it is your commitment that will see you cross that line on marathon day. Remain committed to the goal and see yourself become, a MARATHONER.

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