A little advice for signing up for your first marathon

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Looking back, I really had zero idea what I was doing when I signed up for a marathon. At that point I had only done one half and I could barely run a 10 minute mile. But it just seemed like the timing was right. I had more free time than I had ever had before so I went for it.

Looking back, I kind of cringe thinking how unprepared I was. But at the same time, signing up and starting training was the only way to learn everything I did. With running (and fitness and health in general) everything is so specific to the individual, so much of it can only be learned by experience. From fueling to cross training, the best way to find what works best for you is to dive right in and try it.

I firmly believe that anyone can run a marathon. All you have to do is decided that you’re going to put the time in and then do it. Through physical therapy, I met a guy who had never run before but wanted to get in shape, so he signed up for the Houston Marathon. Six months later he finished the race in under four hours.

But while I’m all for just doing it, diving in with reckless abandon to the unknown can lead to injuries so here are a few tips to keep in mind if you’re signing up for your first 26.2.

– Do your research. After signing up for the race, I became obsessed with Runner’s World. I read Hal Higdon’s “Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide” and “The New Rules of Marathon and Half Marathon Nutrition” by Matt Fitzgerald.

-Consider joining a running club.

-Pick a plan. There are lots of marathon training plans to choose from and many of them can be found online for free. Choose the one that’s right for you.

-Strength train. Nope. Running by itself is not enough when you set out to run a marathon. Strength training will help you stay injury free.

-Consider seeing a physical therapist. Even if you don’t have an injury they can perform gait assessment and to make sure all your muscles are working the way they should. This is probably what made the biggest difference in my training.

-Get properly fitted for a pair of running shoes. I discovered I had been wearing a half size too small.

But seriously, don’t stress too much. Just sign up and learn as you go. The beauty of running is it’s just left foot, right foot.

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