Getting yourself marathon-ready might seem daunting, but setting your sights on smaller goals will have you crossing that finish line sooner than you think.

As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.

In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!

This week I’ll be sharing a few tips to help you reach marathon runner status.

Like any other fitness goal, getting ready for a marathon starts with honestly evaluating where you’re currently at. Even if you’re more or less in shape to start off with, running a marathon is a serious exercise in endurance and not something you can just decide to do. Marathon runners train hard and have to commit to a routine that will have them race ready when the time comes.

If you’ve never run a marathon before, don’t be afraid to start small. Tempting as it can be to sign yourself up for a half-marathon (that’s 13.1 miles, just to put it in perspective for you)right off the bat just to see how well you’ll do, you’re better of starting with a 5K. Especially if fitness is a brave new world for you.

That “baby steps” approach should apply to your marathon training, too. If you want to run a 5K, you should start by focusing on time, not distance. Adding an extra 5 or 10 minutes onto your daily run is much more manageable than adding an extra mile, and lets you set incremental goals instead of constantly struggling to hit a new milestone. Plus, working on time versus distance makes it much easier to plan out your runs. You know that it only takes you an hour to complete an hour-long run, but how long a 6-mile run takes can vary from day to day.

A good rule of thumb is to increase your running time by no more than 15% in one week and to always base that increase on how your previous runs have been going for you. I can’t stress enough how important tailoring your fitness goals to you and you alone is to finding success in any kind of fitness endeavor. Trying to meet someone else’s standards is only setting yourself up to fail, and nothing takes the wind out of your sails faster than constantly feeling like you’re coming up short.

Something else to keep in mind is that it’s perfectly okay to take time to rest. If you’re feeling a little under the weather or haven’t slept well, skip a day. Keep as much consistency as you can in your marathon training, but be smart about your workouts. You don’t have to run every single day while you’re in training, especially when not giving yourself a break is doing more harm than good. You want to be healthy, and in the best shape you can be when race day rolls around, and you won’t be either if you’re pushing yourself past your limits when it’s not necessary. Recovery time is extremely important to your marathon training.

Taking part in a 5K or 10K is exciting enough all on its own, but if you’re determined to run a half or full marathon (26.2 miles, for the record) in the near future, they’re also great practice. Not only do they get you into the swing of a marathon training regime, but they give you a chance to test out your pacing and meet race time goals in a real race setting. Race simulations are fantastic for helping you set realistic marathon time goals, but running by yourself and running with a crowd are very different experiences.

If marathon running is something you’re really serious about, one of the best things you can do for yourself is to join a local running club. Having a group of people to run with gives you a feel for “race conditions,” and provides a support system you won’t find anywhere else. These are all people with the same goals as you who can offer much-needed encouragement and advice, and experienced runners tend to be more than happy to help new runners find their footing.

Once you’ve conquered a 5K, you can set your sights on a 10K. After that, a half-marathon is much less intimidating. Especially since you’ll know exactly what you need to do to prepare. And after that? The adventure of a full marathon is yours to take on.

For more information, join Central Florida Fitness Tips or get in touch me right away at (407) 409-7519 or info@lanmasters.com.

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