Inspired to run your first marathon now?
Watching the tens of thousands of runners cross the finish line at last week’s Chicago Marathon, arms raised in triumph, may have you considering the challenge. Are you ready for your first 26.2 mile test?
With more than 700 marathon races scheduled annually in the U.S. and Canada, there’s no shortage of events to choose from. And it’s not too early to consider a spring race.
Crossing the finish line of this run can be one of life’s most ecstatic experiences, but the distance must be respected, experts say. The grueling course has brought many to tears, injuries and disappointment. Sports medicine doctors say conquering the challenge can be a great health and fitness goal, but have a few tips for the uninitiated.
What’s the best advice for marathon newbies? Health enews checked in with Dr. Charles Crotteau, a family medicine physician with Advocate Medical Group, and an avid runner. Dr. Crotteau has completed 25 marathons and has a personal best of 2:56.
He boiled his wisdom down to five critical tips for runners:
- Understand that training is long and requires commitment. Most training programs run four to six months, and you should be able to run three miles comfortably before you start training for a marathon.
- Set a realistic goal for your marathon. Find your intrinsic motivation. Figure out why you are doing it and be realistic about the time it will take to cross the finish line.
- Maintain a healthy weight. You may lose some weight if you are already overweight, but be conscious of the nutrition and hydration that your body requires to train and run 26.2 miles.
- Rest. Your body will be mentally and physically taxed by the training program and you must plan rest days as part of your training schedule.
- Listen to your body. If you begin having pain, pay attention to it. Stress fractures, blisters, muscle/tendon strains and sprains are common during training programs, especially when runners train too quickly. Check with your physician if you are feeling any intense pain before pushing through.
Dr. Crotteau suggests that first-timers find a proven training schedule from a reputable online running web site to use as a guide. Joining a running club also offers the chance to be in a supportive community that will encourage and help you reach that finish line.
About the Author
health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.