Have you ever run a race?
Before you start thinking about running a marathon, it's a good idea to try out a few smaller races, like a 5K or 10K. You'll be able to figure out if you truly like training and racing before making a huge time, emotional, and possibly financial commitment. I always like to see runners complete a half marathon before they do a marathon so they get a better sense of what's involved with the training and race itself and to decide if they truly enjoy long distance running!
Do you have time to train?
Some people don't realize that marathon training is very time-intensive. At times, it may feel like a part-time job (that you don't get paid for). Beginners should plan to run or exercise at least 4-5 days a week and one of those days will involve hours of running (at the peak of your training). Think realistically about your work, family, and other responsibilities to determine if you would have the time to commit to the training. Some people may need to get family members on board before committing if they're going to need help with childcare and/or household responsibilities.
Have you thought about possible training and race conditions?
If you already have a marathon in mind, have you thought about the possible race day conditions? For example, Honolulu is a great vacation destination, but running a marathon in the extreme heat is difficult. You also need to consider when and where you would be training. If you'd like to do a Spring marathon and you live in a climate with cold winters, you'll be doing the bulk of your training in the cold weather. The same is true for those doing early Fall marathons who will have to do a lot of hot weather running. Think carefully about when and how you'll train.
You should also find out as much as you can about any marathons that you might be interested in running. Talk to other runners about their recommendations for first marathons. Find out if races you're interested in have time limits.
Have you done your research?
Have you ever watched or volunteered at a marathon? Have you read some books on marathons? Have you talked to people who have completed a marathon? Have you looked at a beginner marathon training program to see what's involved? Are you aware of some of the costs associated with running a marathon? All of those things are good ways to learn more about marathon training and running (without actually starting to train) so you know what to expect and can figure out if it's something you want to do. If you think you'd like to train with a group, research different training programs in your area and see if there's one you'd like.
Why do you want to complete a marathon?
Make sure you want to do a marathon for the right reasons. If someone dared you to do it or you're trying to impress your boss, you're probably not going to last very long through the training. You should have some internal goals, like improving your health or proving to yourself that you can commit to the training and complete the race.
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