“Life shrinks and expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
Anyone can finish a marathon, if you want to do it. You may not be fast, but you will finish. The biggest hurdle for completing an endurance event is time. The solution to the time problem is organization and recruiting support.
Marathon training programs are sixteen weeks long or about four months. If you do not have a running background, don’t try to weasel your way into a shorter program. You will get hurt.
There are numerous programs out there, including one on my page above. For your first marathon, the goal should be to finish. You can set a time goal as a “it would be nice to do it in …” but the primary goal should be to finish.
The way that you start your training and your race day strategy is going to depend upon your fitness level going into the marathon. If you are coming from the couch, having never run a race in your life, you should plan to use a run/walk strategy to reduce the likelihood of injury and increase the chances of success and enjoyment of the race. On all long runs, implement your run/walk ratio. Eight minutes running and two walking is a great one. Another successful ratio is nine minutes walking one minute running.
If you are relatively fit or have completed a few 10k’s or even a half marathon, you can also use the run/walk strategy to reduce the risk of injury if you are injury prone or coming back from an injury. You can also just run the entire distance.
But finding a program or even a running partner is not the biggest challenge you will face on your journey. You have to make your running a priority and everyone in your life needs to understand and support you in your goal. This is especially true if you have children who rely on you for their daily care.
Before you register and commit to a specific race, talk with your support system about helping watch the kids for your long runs. If your children are in their later elementary years talk with them about the race and see what they can do to help. It’s important to include those around you as you chase your goals and dreams. Sometimes partners and spouse become resentful or jealous about the time you spend training. This is less likely to happen if you discuss it in realistic ways, including your energy levels, how they can help, and the time commitment.
Supports are also excellent motivators. If you have done your upfront work and they are invested in you accomplishing your goal, they will not let you fail. They will eliminate all the excuses you come up with when your motivation to get up at 4 am is waning.
Who said a marathon was not a team sport?