I remember when I ran my first marathon many years ago in New York. I’d done all the training and had a precise time goal in mind (which was to qualify for Boston). However, as things turned out I didn’t have much of a plan for actually running the race and finally finished quite exhausted 25 minutes over my goal! Hopefully this article will help other beginner marathoners avoid this situation.
Pick a Realistic Goal!
Many people look at their 10K times and expect to run a fairly quick marathon based on this time. It seldom works this way! Here are some suggested goal times for beginner marathoners:
That’s right -for many first or second time marathoners you should forget about a time and focus instead on completing the distance without too much pain & suffering. Once you have mastered the distance you will be able to improve your time.
4 to 4 1/2hours
– This is a popular goal time and it is an excellent choice for the middle of the pack runner if you feel you must aim for a time.
3 hrs 30 minutes
– Even if you can run a 40-minute 10K this isn’t a bad time for your first marathon. 26.2 miles is a great ‘equalizer’ when it comes to runners of differing abilities
Once you have established your finish goal make your training runs match. Don’t forget to vary the pace on the different runs. You should follow a marathon training program of about 16 to 20 weeks long. (You can find a really good beginner schedule at www.marathon-training-schedule.org )
Track your miles in a running log to see how closely you are following the training program. If you belong to a running club train with other people who are planning on running a marathon – but make sure you run at a pace that suits your program and your abilities. It’s too easy to get sucked along with others going at a faster pace than you need.
Many beginners actually train too much and as a result their bodies have not fully recovered in time for the race. I ran one of my best marathons after training with a friend who was recovering from an injury – he was running more slowly and would take walk breaks during the longer runs.
Eat The Right Foods
Your diet is important when you are doing all that training, so make sure you eat sufficient amounts of carbohydrates (without overdoing it). If you Google ‘marathon diet’ you will find several good sites that discuss this. The key thing is to eat a balanced diet and avoid junk food as much as possible.
– pick a goal that you feel you can realistically achieve
– train at a comfortable level (you’re not training for a 10K!)
– follow a proven training schedule
– train with a buddy if possible
– watch your diet
Following these simple points will help you get through that first or second marathon as comfortably as possible. The links below have some great information for beginner marathon runners.