Completing a marathon is an admirable and challenging process. Training for a marathon is long and arduous; so, it is reasonable to make sure you are up for the task prior to beginning the journey.
Many participants who begin training for a marathon have little to no running experience. So you must make sure there are not any health obstacles before you begin. If you are not regularly participating in physical activity, you must see your primary healthcare provider to have a physical exam and any necessary laboratory tests to screen for potential problems that could impact your training.
You should also be seen by a physical medicine & rehabilitation specialist (physiatrist) or orthopedist who specializes in sports medicine and running injuries, preferably one familiar with running injuries. This visit should screen for muscle weakness or imbalance, joint disorders, and assess your running style, or gait analysis.
You should also discuss training plans and common injuries. Armed with the knowledge of how to train according to your physical capabilities, many of these injuries may be preventable.
Additionally, ask about strategies for optimal hydration, which is critically important to your health. No other issue is responsible for as many race day problems as hydration. Finally, ask which running shoe is best suited to your foot and type of training. Make sure you understand what you need.
The next point to consider is how you are going to train. If you have never trained for a marathon before it can be a daunting task to devise and carry out a training schedule that is safe and effective. I would recommend joining a reputable running club or training program. If this is not an option for you, then, partner with a friend or group of other runners to train together.
Running with others is a way to stay focused and motivated, and a great way to get feedback and direction about your training. However, whether in a formal program or just running with friends, your training will need to be adjusted for your individual needs. Be careful to stay within your capabilities, realizing the need to push yourself. Lastly, a coach or an online training program can be very helpful. Whether alone or in a group, either of these options can guide your progress.
Lastly, if you are a novice runner, strongly consider running shorter races prior to undertaking a marathon. At a minimum, this should be done during the time you are training for your marathon. However, I would recommend that you give yourself a year or two of running shorter races prior to committing yourself to a marathon. This will give you the experience you need to be safe and successful with your marathon aspirations and it will make your journey all the more enjoyable.
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