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How Do I Begin to Train For My First Marathon?

This is a question that comes often in our office, so here are a few things to keep in mind:

Running a marathon requires both physical and mental strength, focus, commitment, and time. If you do take this step and make the commitment, you will find that completing a marathon could be one of the most satisfying experiences of your life.

Getting Started

  • Training to run a marathon will test your physical limits and stretch the boundaries of your endurance. Before you hit the pavement and before you purchase equipment, you must first formulate a plan and educate yourself on all aspects of marathon training. It is similar to planning a trip. Once you find out where you want to go you have to figure out how to get there. Give yourself at least 6 months of training to get there.
  • Set a date. Find out when the next marathon in your area will be by checking a marathon calendar or a marathon guide.
  • Start running regularly. It will be extremely helpful to have your body used to running when you start a 16-week training program.
  • If you haven't exercised in some time, allow yourself more time to train and try an 8-week conditioning program. Listen to your body. Your body might adjust quickly, or it might take a little longer to be ready for the marathon training program.

Invest in the proper running equipment

  • Running shoes are the most important purchase you will make on your quest to successfully train and participate in a marathon. You will be putting more miles on them per week than all of your other shoes combined. The right shoes will alleviate stress in your legs and back. Before you visit a running shoe store, check with your podiatrist to see what it is that you need in a running shoe. Is it stability, cushion, motion control, or would you be best off with a light weight trainer? Your podiatrist can help you with this by evaluating your foot type and your gait pattern.
  • Having the right running clothes isn't as important as having the right shoes. However, you must know what type of clothes to avoid and what clothes can aid you while you train.

Preventing Injury

  • Once you begin your training program, injury prevention will be of utmost importance! Stretching, warm-ups, proper training, and nutrition will all come into play during your training in order to prevent running injuries.
  • If you do experience pain in your feet or ankles while running, it is very important to visit your podiatrist right away to diagnose the problem and get proper treatment. Don't make the mistake that many people do when they think "it will go away eventually."