How do i know i’m ready for a marathon?

That question could be taken in a few different ways. Is this a question of “How do I know I’m fit enough to do a marathon?” or “How do I know if I’m crazy enough to do a marathon?” If you mean “How do I know I’m ready to take on the challenge of training for a marathon?”, you may have already signed up and at least you’re really thinking about it.

I love that you are consciously weighing your decisions. That means you are someone who puts a lot of thought and consideration into what you do, which also means you probably really try to do your best. One more thing is that maybe you are a recovering perfectionist and you want to get it right if you’re gonna do it, and if that is the case, do I think you’re ready for a marathon? Yes, absolutely. But I want to remind you that when you go into marathon training, it’s going to test your limits more than any of the shorter distances. There’s also a lot more potential for injuries and for things to go wrong. If you are going into this feeling like, “I’ve got to get it right, I’ve got to reach this time goal or finish in this certain place,” are you ready for a marathon?

I think it is good to sign up; it is good to go for it, but let go of that perfectionism. You are not going to get through a marathon training build up without something big going wrong, either some kind of niggling injury or workout that you can’t finish, or something happens to someone you care about and you have to take a few days off. There will be something that goes wrong during this training. And so I want to remind you now that that is okay and it happens every time. And honestly, if it doesn’t happen, that probably means that it’s going to happen on race day. So you’d almost rather have something go wrong during the training cycle because it just is too rare to make it through the training cycle.

And even if you did make it through the training cycle with nothing going wrong, you are probably then going into the race thinking it’s going to be easier than it is. The marathon is humbling. The marathon is difficult; the marathon is gonna change you; but the biggest thing to learn is that it is about the journey to get there. All you want to do is cross the finish line of that first race. Let go of goals; let go of expectations as much as you can. Let go of time. The only thing you want to do is get to the start line healthy and cross that finish line. 

Now I will say that at Running for Real, we have effort-based training plans. These are ideal for first-time marathoners because they get you straight into the mindset of not obsessing over pace. A lot of training plans are going to push you to set a certain pace or run a certain time. I really think that our training plan would be an ideal thing for you to do, if you are thinking about doing a marathon. It is a great way to get yourself in the right mindset right from the start, because typically, if people come into the marathon with pace obsessions, their first race doesn’t go well. Maybe the second race doesn’t go well, until they finally say, “I just want to enjoy this,” and then they let go of those time goals.

So maybe you could get ahead of the curve, start with the effort-based training, and just make it a good experience, because if you’re going to go through all this, you want it to be a good experience. And so my point is, it’s about the journey to get there. It’s gonna change you; you’re gonna be a different person for the rest of your life after this experience and you have to remember that every step, every day, every run, is a part of that journey. That is the gift, not what you can do on race day. 

So are you ready for a marathon? If you’ve been training for it, it is very, very easy, especially towards the end, to be like, “How am I going to do this?”  Maybe you’re nearing the race and you’re thinking, “I can barely run this pace for 12 miles” or “How am I going to possibly do it for 26?”  Again, I would remind you, that’s why it’s good to go with an effort-based plan. That is just about doing your best, but if you are determined to go ahead with the pacing, then I want to remind you that everyone feels this way with a few weeks to go, with a month to go, with a week to go.

If you have done the training to the best of your ability, you can do this. Even if you haven’t done it to the best of your ability because life hasn’t allowed you to, you can still do this. You, my friend, can do hard things. I know you’re gonna be able to do this. It’s gonna be hard; I’m not gonna lie; but you’ve got it.

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advice, marathon, Q & A

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