Marathon distance races can be overwhelming and intimidating. Are you ready to run a marathon? Read this first!
When I first started running, my goal was to run three miles without walking. When I accomplished that goal, it changed to running six miles without stopping. And after I accomplished that goal, I decided to tackle a half marathon — again, without stopping. You can see how this progression plays out, I’m sure.
Here I am, four marathons, several years, and a whole lot wiser later…
I distinctly remember chatting in my friends’ living room with a bunch of experienced runners when I was in training for my first marathon. One guy had recently run a double marathon. A double marathon! At the time I thought that was over-the-top insane. In my first-marathon-training brain, I couldn’t fathom running a double marathon. In fact, I still can’t. Being the newbie that I was, I asked all sorts of questions — did you walk? did other people walk? how did you feel? was it harder than a full marathon? what did you eat? seriously, you walked?
Out of all the things I asked and questions he answered, the one I was really hung up on was the walking. After all those years of trying to achieve my running goals without walking, I couldn’t wrap my head around that marathoners walked. In races. This went against everything I had ever known. To be a real runner, a real marathoner, you had to run. Walking was a no-no.
As my own training for my marathon progressed, I realized I needed to eat and drink. I was also training with some really incredible, none-too-serious people. We stopped to eat and drink, stopped for photos, and had an amazing time during our training runs. It was one of the most fun training cycles I’ve ever had to this day. As the miles and weeks ticked by, I realized walking was not only okay, but it was acceptable. And frankly sometimes necessary. But the bright light bulb moment for me was on the marathon course itself. Starting around mile 18, tons of people were walking. Everywhere I looked there was a walker. I felt like I was being initiated into some top secret club that had been there all along. I just didn’t know about it because I wasn’t actually a marathoner yet.
What is my point in telling you all of this? My point is this: what’s the best way to run a marathon? YOUR way is the best way. If you can run all the way through, more power to you. If you need to walk, go for it. Here are a few options:
How to Run Marathon Distance Races YOUR Way
Run the Whole Way
If your body and mind can hold up with running without walking at all for 26.2 miles, more power to you! Go for it and crush that race! You should be proud of your accomplishments.
Use the Galloway Method
Coach Galloway is a genius if you ask me. I have runners who use the Galloway Method and tackle all sorts of distances and paces. It’s amazing what one can achieve using run/walk intervals. The runners I coach who use predetermined run/walk intervals can run much longer and with less discomfort than some of my friends who run straight through. I wasn’t a believer until I saw the practice in action — it works!
Walk Through Aid Stations
My personal favorite way to run a marathon distance race is by running the distance between aid stations and then walking through them. This method is helpful for a few reasons:
First, you won’t choke on your water. Have you ever tried running and drinking out of a cup? Most people can’t do it. (If you can, kudos to you. Teach us your ways!)
Second, by walking through the aid stations, you give your legs a little time to rest and get ready for the next effort.
Third, walking through the aid stations also gives you extra time to get your snack or fuel ready and eaten.
The fourth reason walking through aid stations is a good idea is because you’ll be forced to take in fluids and thereby avoid potential dehydration.
And finally, you really don’t lose much time at all by walking through aid stations. If anything, you give your legs just enough rest to be able to run a bit faster than you would have had you simply run straight through.
Listen to Your Body
Another option to successfully run a marathon distance is simply by listening to your body. By nature, runners are much more in tune with their bodies than the average person. We can tell when something just doesn’t “feel right” and oftentimes we can sense an oncoming injury or illness. We can also use this kind of “sixth sense” when it comes to training and racing. When we tune into our bodies and listen to what they’re telling us, we’ll know if it’s appropriate to push harder and run faster, or perhaps take it down a notch and walk for a moment to rejuvenate fatigued legs and feet.
When I first started running, the miles of any new distance I tackled seemed immeasurable. To even consider running for 26.2 miles straight seemed unfathomable. But once I made the connection that runners walk, the miles didn’t seem so far and the marathon distance didn’t seem quite as daunting. And when I saw walkers on the race course, I realized that marathoners are people, too.
If you’re considering tackling your first marathon distance and running 26.2 miles seems daunting and scary, don’t let the number scare you off. You can run your marathon any way you wish.
Are you ready to run a marathon? Hire a running coach. It will help ease a lot of anxiety.
If you’ve already run a marathon, what was the thing that gave you the most anxiety before having done one?
If you’re thinking about running a marathon, what’s holding you back?