The history of the marathon is an interesting one. It is based on the legend of a Greek soldier who ran about 25 miles non-stop from a battlefield near the town of Marathon to Athens to proclaim victory for the Greeks over the invading Persian army. Though there are conflicting accounts of the accuracy of this legend, it inspired what is now known as the marathon race with a distance of 26.2 miles, the ultimate test of strength and endurance.
Running a marathon is a huge challenge for even the most athletic individual. It takes months or even years of training to reach that level of endurance, and many who attempt the race collapse before the finish line or are unable to complete it. Their body simply decides that it can’t take anymore and it shuts down on its own.
But for some, it represents the peak of their fitness journey. It is an accomplishment that they can look back on with pride for the rest of their life. Training to overcome this significant challenge is very difficult, but if you want to have a chance to create this lasting memory, then you will need to know a few things.
Consider if it is a Realistic Goal for You
A marathon is grueling and can cause serious injuries or even long-lasting health issues. The human body simply wasn’t made to handle that amount of physical stress. Before you decide that running a marathon is what you want to do, consider whether or not it is realistic enough. If you have never been running before, this may not be the fitness goal for you. It would be wise to consult your doctor, especially if they are familiar with your health history, to see if your body could handle such a challenge.
Take it One Step at a Time
26.2 miles is a huge distance, and working up to that level of fitness will take a long time. When you think about the end goal, it can be overwhelming. The key is to take your training regimen one step at a time. Every day, you have to start something healthy. If you wake up a little earlier than normal and make yourself a healthy breakfast, this can give you the energy and motivation you need to make another healthy decision. By the end of the day, you have worked up the courage to go on your first jog. Don’t expect to be able to run five miles on the first day. Every milestone will take time, and by focusing on each individual step rather than the final race, you can work up to the fitness level you will need to accomplish this goal.
Pursue Easier Milestones First
Whether you are already a regular runner or not, you will want to focus on achieving easier milestones first. Instead of committing solely to a marathon, perhaps you can sign up for a 5k first. After accomplishing that, 10k could be the next step. Then a half-marathon. Reaching each of these milestones will provide you with additional motivation and serve as healthy progress toward your ultimate goal.
Focus on Specific Aspects of Fitness
Running a marathon successfully can be broken down into improving various areas of your fitness. You will need to build up the muscles in your legs and core so that your body can take the punishment that 26.2 miles will dish out. Cutting down on body fat will allow you to improve your endurance as you will be carrying less weight during the race. Increasing your flexibility should also be a focus so that your muscles are less likely to cramp up and loosen up your joints. Even working on your balance could be helpful when the miles seem to stretch on. Instead of just planning your training around jogging more, consider ways to focus on these specific aspects of fitness that will give you a better chance of success.
Set a Realistic Timeline
Your biggest obstacle to finishing a marathon could be your expectations. Maybe you hope to be ready for the race in 6 months if you already run regularly. But you need to be realistic about the timeframe. Will you have the time in your schedule needed to build up your fitness by then? Working with a running coach who has helped others complete a marathon would be a wise choice to help you make a plan with a realistic timeframe.
Be Ready to Work
No matter what your current fitness level is, running a marathon is accomplished by very few for a reason. Even some of the most athletic individuals in the world cannot conquer this mountain. You will have to work very hard and push your body past its limits to achieve this milestone. Be ready to bear down and work to get your fitness to this level and expect that it will take a long time.