With Marathon season upon us, it can leave even the least likely candidates in awe and wanting to apply to run their first marathon. Don't just think about it, apply now and get training for the run of your life.
The best way to approach your training is to break it down into small segments, whatever your current level of fitness. It can be a good idea to sign up to some smaller runs prior to your marathon. Getting used to a race environment and gradually increasing your distance helps to prevent injury, and makes the whole journey seem less daunting.
You need to ensure your training plan is challenging, but not impossible. If you do too much too soon, you are welcome to cause yourself some injury, as well burning yourself out. You'll begin to feel like you can't do it, which is certainly not true. You can do this, you simply need to train, as you would with any new challenge or skill.
5k is a great race distance for beginners. It is also a great distance for experienced runners, as you can try to improve your speed and get a new personal best. By increasing your speed, you will find it easier to run for longer at a slower pace as your VO2 max and fitness levels will increase.
Once you are comfortable running 5k distances, you are ready to take it up a notch and sign up to a 10k challenge. Personally, I feel that once you crack the 10k barrier, you are a long distance runner and the world is your oyster. You get used to knowing how to pace yourself, and you need more than an average fitness level to be able to run a 10k race in a competitive time. 10k is also a nice distance, because it doesn't affect your life too dramatically, in that as long as you are putting the miles in 2 or 3 times per week, you will be able to manage the distance.
Once you reach the next stage, the half marathon, your confidence should be building as you realise how far you have already come and you realise that, actually, you really can do this. Signing up to your first half marathon is a big deal and you deserve to feel extremely proud of yourself for coming so far.
The finish line of the marathon is your ultimate goal throughout your entire training schedule. The emotions you will feel on completion is so overwhelming and you will remember that moment for the rest of your life. Be prepared to have the running bug by this point, and be signing up to race dates left, right and centre.
Training for a marathon is not an easy task. It takes dedication, willpower, determination and physical and mental strength. You will need to dedicate a lot of your week to training and adjust your diet to ensure you are getting enough of the right foods. Your body shape will likely change, but all changes, both physical and mental are likely to be for the better, so embrace it.