So you’ve decided that you’d like to run a marathon…at some point, at some time. But it hasn’t happened yet.
You can’t seem to get the race off your mind. Each year, the idea arises, and you entertain it for a short amount of time. Then you talk yourself out of it, listing a series of reasons why the goal is absolutely impossible.
If you’ve been dreaming of crossing the finish line for a while, here’s what may be preventing you from forging ahead with your marathon training.
1. The Distance is Intimidating
Yes, it’s terrifying: 26.2 miles. You get exhausted just thinking about the distance. If you’ve never run a 5 km race, a 10 km race or a half marathon, the full marathon is most likely too big of a jump. But if you do have those miles under your belt, there is probably something else stopping you from starting your training today: fear. Part of you jumps at the idea of signing up for the next marathon, but another part of you – a much quieter, yet more powerful part of you – whispers “NO, Don’t do it. It’s not possible. You can’t run that far. You’ll never be able to do it.” Then, fear and insecurity keep you frozen in your tracks. What if you decided that running a marathon might be possible? What if you gave yourself some credit for past distances that you have endured? If you considered these possibilities, your ability to complete the distance might not seem quite as daunting.
Once you start believing that mastering a marathon is possible, everything else will fall into place. At that point, you can begin thinking about what enabled you to achieve your past long distance runs. Was it a supportive running buddy who ran by your side? An upbeat 130 BPM soundtrack? Running on a scenic trail? There are ways to make your workouts easier to conquer. It may mean training with a group, rewarding yourself with a protein shake after your run, or going for a regular massage to relieve muscle tightness. When you enjoy your running experience, the longer distances will be less overwhelming.
2. There’s No Time
You’re busy. You’ve got work, commitments, countless priorities and barely any time for yourself. It may not seem like the right time for you to run a marathon: you may be getting married, moving, raising a child or working long hours. Yet it also could be exactly the right time for you to lace up and hit the pavement. If running a marathon is something you can’t shake, it may be time to change your belief that there’s no time for running. If you’re ready to commit to making running a priority, you WILL make time for it, no matter how many daily meetings you have or how many e-mails flood your inbox.
After you’ve made up your mind, there are little things you can do to adjust your schedule and make time for training. You can trade up your night out for a run with a friend, go to bed early and get up for morning runs, turn lunchtime into a workout, or hit the gym on your way home from work. Training for a marathon requires some consideration about how you will organize your time to fit in three to six runs each week; but it doesn’t mean overhauling all of your other commitments. Once you decide that running your marathon is mandatory and not optional, time will not be a barrier.
3. Injury Is a Possibility
There’s a chance that you will injure yourself when you are training for a marathon… but if fear of injury is preventing you from taking your next step, it may pay to ask yourself, “Am I focusing on what may go wrong?” There’s a certain amount of risk involved with every new activity you take on. It’s up to you to measure the risk, learn how to minimize the risk, and decide whether or not you want to go ahead full-force. If you decide to take on a marathon, you’ll have to learn how to be okay with the aches and pains that come with the journey. There will be mornings when you have to rest instead of run. There will be weeks when your joints may hurt. Injury could happen… but it’s up to you to decide how much time you spend worrying about it.
Once you shift your focus from the “what if’s” to the “what’s happening”, you can educate yourself on how to prevent injury and recognize warning signs so you stay healthy. You can learn about the most common injuries that runners experience (shin splints, muscle pulls, runner’s knee, ankle sprains…), and the proper treatment (icing, stretching exercises, rest…). You can incorporate strength training into your workouts, allow time for recovery from long runs, correct your form and make a commitment that you will not push through an injury. At the end of the day, if you want to get running, get informed and then let go of your fear of getting hurt.
4. Marathons are Only for Serious Runners
Running burns, it’s hard, and everyone seems so much better at it than you, right? Chances are, you’ve had repeated qualms about your running ability… to the point where you’ve told yourself and others “I am not a runner,” “I don’t have a runner’s body” or “Running is just not my thing”. News flash: you are a runner if you think like one. Thinking like a runner means telling yourself, “I can get through this workout.” It means saying, “I know I can do this if I commit to it.” Thinking like a runner means adjusting your thinking ever so slightly so you are instead thinking, “I may not be a professional runner, but that won’t stop me from RUNNING!”
Besides, when you train for a marathon over 15-20 weeks, your body gradually changes through endurance, speed, strength and tapering. Over time, your body can take on more, and your runs become easier as you get into race shape. Try it: If it hurts to run three miles, try running three miles every day for one week straight. You are guaranteed to feel a difference once the week is over. As you find your running rhythm, you will begin to enjoy running more and more. You will find that running helps you let off steam and feel hugely accomplished. You may even start to look forward to early morning wake-ups, sore muscles, and those long, slow distances. You may not feel like a runner just yet, but by the time you are through with your training, you WILL BE ONE.
Training for a marathon requires an unbelievable amount of mental and physical energy and dedication. If you’re wrestling with your decision to run a marathon, you may want to re-examine your thinking… it may in fact be the only thing holding you back.
Featured photo credit: Female runner lacing sport shoes before training/ Dirima via shutterstock.com