Stepping Up to Run Your 1st Marathon

With all the marathon talk getting batted around, I figure now’s the best time to dig into the how, why, and which as it relates to embracing your own marathon moment. While this is not a comprehensive guide on the marathon process, from start to finish, it, at the very least, gives the prospective marathon runner an insight into the basics of how to go about planning and preparing for the race event of a lifetime.

Why a marathon?

It’s natural for someone who’ve run at least a dozen marathons to recommend it as a must-do, at-least-once-in-your-life, bucket list event. If for no other reason than that everyone should, at least once in their lifetime, push their perceived limits and embrace the incredible potential they were created with. Only then can one honestly know what he or she is capable of. As most marathon runners know, running a marathon will challenge, empower, inspire, motivate and change you. And not for the reasons you may think, for while the accomplishment of crossing the finish line on marathon day is the crowning achievement – and really is the sum of all your efforts leading up to that moment – it comes second to your dedication to training and the physical, mental, and financial sacrifices you made to get there. It is the tenacity, grit, and courage that has defined your training that will outlive your moment of glory and redefine you as a stronger and better version of yourself.

How do I choose which marathon to run?

It’s the 50,000 dollar question, made so as I’m a big believer that if something’s worth doing it’s worth doing well. So, if you’re in the market for a marathon, I’d suggest a popular one. And because I’m a New Yorker, and well because it’s popular, and famous and all that, I’d recommend the New York City Marathon. However, no worries if it’s outside of your range, I’m sure wherever you are, or somewhere close by, is bound to have one that meets the criteria of being a challenge and providing an enjoyable experience. One of the main reasons for going with a popular marathon for your first is that it provides a few things you will need as a first time marathoner. A popular race will have a lot of hype attached to it. This will overflow into the running and local community, which then encourages and fosters team and community spirit. The new runner needs this support and community for accountability, advice and training. Additionally, a popular race will also boast a certified and well-known course. You can use the information available to prepare and get yourself familiar with the race. By race day you should be comfortable, confident, and ready to run. Lastly, a race that is well-known holds the promise of a memorable event for a few reasons: there’s a very good chance it’ll be a well-executed race, have good crowd, support, great swag, and eats at the finish in addition to cool bling.

From Zero to Hero: preparing for the run of a lifetime

This part actually requires an entire article dedicated to it, but I’ll go ahead here and touch on the key concepts for running your first marathon and follow up with greater detail in a subsequent piece.

Because no one gets up one day and decides to run a marathon right there and then, it means careful thought goes into the planning and execution of such an event. Once the decision is made the runner can join a running club and be privy to their training schedule or adopt a certifiable training plan either through enlisting the expertise of a running coach or following a proven plan (online, from print etc.,) if training solo. Only, beware that enlisting professional help will get you a plan tailored to you while any other plan will have to be adjusted to your abilities and goals. In addition, new marathoners will likely have to change or enhance their diet to accommodate the change to their [active] lifestyle. As such, runners are encouraged to see their physician to assess their health and visit with a nutritionist if necessary to ensure they get the required foods in their diet that will fuel their training. Also, proper and adequate sleep is another key element that comprises a runner’s “diet” and oftentimes requires a concentrated effort to follow through on, this becomes even more critical in the final 3-4 weeks before race day. Additionally, Because of accountability and support factors, training with a group or team is recommended, however solo runners should be sure to get some group runs in to help with speed work and long runs. Just as important is gearing up and making sure to get good trainers and running shoes along with proper running wear. Finally, new runners should, in addition to their training, seek to participate in official races such as 5k’s, 10k’s and half marathons, where those races can be seen as additional training under race-like settings and their official time can be used to gauge progress and track ability and preparedness.

Now that you’ve gleaned just a little of how this momentous occasion goes down, trust me there is so much more tricks and tips to pulling this off in true warrior-like fashion, you can possibly appreciate the impact running a marathon can have on one’s life. It is not far-fetched to believe that it will change you.

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