It’s easy to get excited when you start running and to want to run various events, increasing your mileage and targeting larger running events as you get better. It’s also easy to get caught up in the hype and the excitement of it all and to want to run something you might not be ready for. So, when are you ready to run a marathon? How do you tell that you can run the distance and avoid injury? Here is a breakdown of what you should know…
Running 42km is quite a feat. If you’re a newbie, reality is that you probably should not risk the injury or even disappointment. It takes runners years of regular training to build up the endurance and the physicality required to run a marathon. Professional runners typically only run up to two marathons a year because of the stress it has on your body and even mind.
Physically, when you run around 30km in one go, your body would’ve used up all of its immediate sources of energy (i.e. carbohydrates), making it a tough last stretch to finish the balance of the distance on other sources of energy, like fat, which is a slow release energy source. You have to dig deep and you have to be properly conditioned to get it done.
Essentially, you need to build proper running form and you need to ensure you can maintain that form after prolonged periods of running. Read this great article on proper running form for some great insight. Also, don’t forget you need to be able to maintain decent running forma and running speed to ensure you finish, and that is whilst you’ll likely experience greater levels of fatigue and muscles soreness. After a marathon, you’ll also have 3-5 days of soreness, your central nervous system would’ve taken pounding, and even psychological stress would set in.
So to get marathon ready, this is what you’ll need to be prepared for… Typically you need around four months of marathon-specific training, which means a lot of dedication each week of those four months. Before this even happens, you should have a long run distance of at least 15km – that means being able to run 15km with relative ease. Each week you need to accumulate around 25-40km and you need to include faster high-intensity type training and strength training which is also a good idea, increasing overall running strength and endurance.
Training based on how you feel, rather than just accumulating mileage is very important. Sticking to your scheduled training is great, but listening to your body is more important. Build your distance, frequency, and speed as you start feeling like it’s a natural progression. That doesn’t mean you should not push yourself, it just means don’t over train. Overtraining could be detrimental to your end goal and you might go backwards at some point.
If you really want to run a marathon, make sure you’re truly ready for it and know that when you are, you’ll enjoy it that much more.