Thinking of Running Your First Marathon?
It’s Boston Marathon season! As we watch all of the amazing athletes conquer Heartbreak Hill on April 17th, many of us end up with the running bug and may feel inspired to begin training for a marathon of our own. This can be equally exciting and daunting if you’ve never done it before, and it can be hard to know where to begin.
An important first step of marathon training is understanding where you are starting from and what it will take to get you where you want to be (past the finish line of a 26.2 mile race). You may already be running a bit, or you may not be. Where you are starting from will influence your training plan significantly. Regardless of where you are starting from, the key is to gradually increase your weekly mileage. As a general rule, it’s best not to increase weekly mileage by more than 10% per week. But if your weekly mileage is 0, you need to start somewhere! In these instances, walk:run intervals can be very useful to help you build up to a good base.
Next, think about the amount of weekly mileage you would like to work up to (typically 25 miles per week minimum for marathon training, up to 50 miles per week for beginners), and then build up to that goal amount gradually. Then decide how you want to distribute these miles throughout the week: How many days per week will you run? Three days per week should be the bare minimum for marathon training, while six days per week should be the maximum, always giving yourself a full rest day! One day per week will be your long run day, which should be ~30% of your weekly mileage.
The next step is investing in a good pair of running shoes. The research on which type of shoes are best is a hot topic of debate, we advise just finding a pair that feels comfortable to you and replacing them after 300-400 miles. Be sure to try on different options and test them out by jogging down the block before you commit. Most running shoe stores will let you do this. We recommend a visit to Marathon Sports and/or Heartbreak Hill Running Co.
If you are planning to run your first marathon, your goals should be:
Remember, less than 1% of people will run a marathon in their lifetime. Finishing a marathon is an amazing accomplishment! For this reason, it is not wise to burden yourself with a specific time goal for your first marathon. Instead, consider setting time-based goals as motivation in future marathons. As you train for your first marathon, focus on fine-tuning your running form, check out this blog post for helpful running form tips!
If you’re feeling inspired but overwhelmed, you may enjoy working with a running coach as you train. Running coaches will develop a training plan for you, adapt your plan along the way, and be your biggest cheerleader. They can also offer education and advice on other topics like shoes, nutrition and hydration, and cross training. Spoiler alert: Our PT Jess will soon be offering running coaching at Girl Fit. We also offer Visual Gait Analysis which can be helpful in preventing injury and improving your running efficiency.
We can’t wait to help you reach your running goals! To schedule an appointment, you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the office at 617-618-9290 to set up a physical therapy evaluation or wellness visit with one of our physical therapists.
Jess Danahy PT, DPT