If you are not a runner, or if you are not used to running long distances, running 26.2 miles can feel like an impossible feat—but it’s definitely achievable if you are willing to put in the effort.
It’s totally fine to be kind of nervous after signing up for your very first marathon. Marathons are not meant to be easy. When looking at training for several months, the amount of work and the long period of time can seem intimidating.
First, you Have to Choose One!
But how do you choose your first marathon? It’s important to remember that not all marathons are the same. Some are quiet, while some have thousands of runners participating. Some are on back roads, while some are in urban settings. To help you figure out what kind of marathon you might prefer, try out some shorter races, or even volunteer at some marathons to get a feel for the vibe. And while it may seem easier to choose something close to home, choosing a different destination might help motivate you even more!
It will help calm your nerves if you do it in steps, looking at the smaller picture instead of the big picture all at once. You should start small by building your weekly mileage over time, and running 3-5 times a week. These runs should be done at a relaxed enough pace that you would be able to carry on a conversation.
You should also do a long run every week or week and a half, extending it by a mile or two each time. Your body needs to adjust gradually to longer distances.
Running Shorter Races
It can also be a big help to run a few shorter races, like 5Ks and 10Ks, and then eventually even a half marathon. This can help you prepare both physically and mentally for your first marathon experience. Running in a race can be very different than running alone in your neighborhood.
Don’t Forget Hydration
Marathons include water stations along the way. A smart way to try and mimic this while doing your training is to plan your route based on water fountains, like in a public park. You can also go to your route ahead of time to stash water bottles along the way.
You can also plan to carry your own water on race day, but you should buy a hydration pack or belt in advance so that you can practice running with it.
The key to both of these methods is to get accustomed long in advance, because you don’t want to try something new on the day of your marathon.
If You Need Extra Help
If you’re the kind of person that would do better with a step by step plan, there are plenty of sources out there that have each step outlined for you. This may be especially helpful if you’re feeling lost and need extra guidance. And don’t forget your friends and family! Ask around and see if you know anyone that has done a marathon. They may be able to give you some firsthand advice to help you with your journey to finishing your first marathon!