So, you've signed up for your first marathon. Now what?
If you want to enjoy the journey and survive the marathon, it is essential that you train SMART! There are about 1/2 a dozen things that will make the difference in your training and take your through to marathon success.
1. Determine your focus. Your first marathon is all about finishing, not pace. Going the distance is the goal for the first time around. Keeping this in mind will ease your mind and quell your frustrations when the miles get long and you begin to worry about your pace. If you feel yoursef beginning to worry about a particular pace, STOP. When you train for your first marahon, the goal is to FINISH. Your focus in your training is on endurance, not speed. There are some things you can do while you train to support your pace and strength, but these are not your focus on every run. Your main focus is on endurance - teaching your body to keep going when it wants to quit.
2. Make the commitment to do the work. Training for a marathon is a commitment of time, effort and energy. It is a journey of many days, many weeks and, sometimes, many months. You are not going to see progress overnight. It is going to take a while. Committing to the daily process, the work, the mornings when you don't want to get out there, but you do anyway, is essential to your success. Commit from the get go. Understand that it is going to take determination to stick it out. You have the ability and you will have to remind yourself of that every now and then. Tap into the reason you want to do it, your why, and you will be motivated to do the work.
3. Trust the process. Once you make the committment to do the work, make the decision to trust the process. Some days, it will feel like you are getting nowhere. Know that you are. Consistent effort made over time, WILL bring you results. Commit your days to the calendar and continue to trust each and every day. The process doesn't happen overnight, but over many nights and weeks and months. Keep moving forward.
4. Pay attention to your body. When you take care of yourself, you pay attention to what's going on with your body. Care for it well. Marathon training is demanding and requires that you care properly for yourself. Seeking medical attention when needed, finding a source of good training, motivation and encouragement can help determine whether you will succeed or not. Fueling your body properly falls into this category, as your diet and nutrition work hand in hand with your physical training. When you hydrate and eat properly, you support the physical part of your training. Care for your body, pay attention and it will do what you want it to do.
5. Be realistic and honest with yourself, by understanding and accepting your fitness level. Take a look at where you are, when it comes to fitness. Are you active? Has it been a while?
Whether you are a weekend warrior who does a few miles here and there, but you want to take it up a notch and tackle the marathon, or you've been sitting on your couch riding the wave of cushions for the past however many years and you are ready to get up and move, you must assess where you are NOW and start where you are, not where you wish you were.
It is possible to start by getting up off of the couch, walk one mile and be ready to finish a marathon in 36 - 40 weeks. I have helped to train thousands of people to do just that. It is possible and is an incredible journey!
6. Celebrate the small victories along the way. As you cross certain milestones in your training, don't forget to celebrate! Taking a look back and recognizing how much you have accomplished can serve as motivation and inspiration for the journey ahead. The miles stretching ahead of you can be daunting. When you take the time to acknowledge the victory of completing a 5k, 10k, half marathon distance and more, you are empowered and encouraged to keep going. Celebrate each step along the way!
These six things will go a long way in helping you through your first marathon. A marathon is a journey that begins when you decide to sign up for your race. You are a marathoner, when you decide to adopt marathoner behavior. You ARE a marathoner!
Training for and completing a marathon has been one of the most important things I have done for myself, physically and emotionally. It has brought me through the stress and joys of raising a family, balancing family and career, and dealing with the struggle of anxiety and depression. It set me firmly on the road towards better overall health and I am grateful that I have had the opportunity to continue for so many years.
The experience of running a marathon is much like life. There are highs and lows, joys and sorrows, but all of these things combine to make an incredible experience!
Training for and completing a marathon has made me a stronger, more confident, peaceful person. It has been said that perspective is reality and I can say, without hesitation, that marathon training has improved my perspective on life by giving me a less stressful outlook on life.
If you have made the decision to train, don't panic! Surrender to the process. Give yourself over to the challenge and let it change you, let it teach you, let it make you into more of YOU.
Robin Simpson, Co-Director of Marathon Makeover
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