If you’ve been dreaming of what it’s like to cross the finish line after running 26.2 miles, but have never done it before, congratulations on having a great fitness goal!

Running a marathon is not for the faint of heart, but if it’s something you’re looking to do, it’s a task that is achievable as long as you do some prep work and planning. You’ll also need some time and perseverance to reach your goal. Success doesn’t come overnight.

Here are some tips for getting yourself ready for your first marathon:

Check in with your doctor

As with any type of exercise program, it’s important to check with your physician or physical therapist to make sure you’ve got the green light to start your training and go the distance.

Get some good shoes

Training for a marathon puts some serious wear and tear on your feet. Visit a running store and have a specialist recommend a good running shoe for you to wear – don’t just rely on recommendations from your friends. The type of shoe you need will depend on a number of factors, including the pronation of your foot, the surfaces you train on, how often you run and the mileage you’ll log.

Make a plan

You need a concrete plan to take you through the rigors of marathon training. There are plenty of free training plans online or you can join a running club or work with a running coach. Make sure that the plan allows for a mix of run types (easy pace, tempo, marathon pace) and periods of rest.

Increase distance and speed gradually

The body needs about six weeks to adapt to the stresses placed on it during training. It’s best to follow periods of increased mileage or speed with cut back periods – times where you lower mileage and/or speed to reduce the load on your body. You should never increase mileage by more than 10% per week.

Cross train and rest

Marathon training plans should incorporate days for cross training and rest. This gives your body a break from the stresses of running and allows your body to recover, preventing injury. For example, plan on running four days a week, resting two days a week and engaging in another type of physical activity on the remaining day, such as bicycling, weight training or swimming.

Enter a few races

It’s a good idea to enter a few shorter races as you train in order to get used to running under race conditions. 5ks and 10ks are a good place to start. Add a half marathon or two into the mix to get an idea of how it will feel to run longer distances.

Account for the unexpected

Even the most disciplined of athletes is bound to miss a day here and there during training. Life happens. If you have to skip workouts, sacrifice the easy ones first and then the tempo runs. Try not to skip the long runs because they’re the ones that will help you build the endurance you need to make it through race day.

Give yourself enough time to train

You can’t go from zero to 26.2 overnight. Training for a marathon takes time, especially if you’re relatively new to running. You’ll need at least 4-6 months to get marathon-ready. If you plan well enough in advance, you’ll put yourself at less risk of getting injured or burning out. Take the time to feel comfortable at each long distance before moving onto the next. If that means you need to add a week or even a few to various stages of your marathon training plan, so be it.

Looking to step-up your running game? Contact us to find out how Orthology can help! We offer professional running analyses and training to improve technique and help keep you injury-free.

Sources:

http://www.runnersworld.com/for-beginners-only/10-tips-for-beginning-marathoners

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2012/11/training-tips/training-plan-your-first-marathon_7326

http://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/marathon-training-tips-for-beginners

http://www.mensfitness.com/training/endurance/tips-running-your-first-marathon