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Can I Run a Marathon?

Next week those magazines will be dropping on people’s doorsteps as the results of the London Marathon ballot are announced. I’ve run over 15 marathons including 3 of the World Marathon Majors, and London marathon, which I have run 4 times, is still hands down my favourite marathon race.

There are many reasons why people enter the London Marathon ballot.  Of all the races, it’s known particularly for its huge focus on raising money for charity.  That might be your reason for entering, or it may be purely personal challenge, to see if you can do it.

I’m also making a guess, that a fair few people have entered the ballot back in the Spring, and have barely run since, so now are feeling quite nervous should in case they get accepted.

This is for you.  Whether you’re thinking about it now, in denial until next week, or indeed didn’t enter the ballot but are thinking about it one day, read on.

Can I run a marathon?

There are many factors that will go into whether you can run a marathon or not.  One only has to watch the television coverage to see how many challenges people overcome, so first off.  Yes you can.  I believe in order to get yourself prepared in the best way you need to consider the physical, mental and mindfulness aspects of preparing for the race.

Physical

From now, you have almost 7 months to get ready for London.  Even if your running has reduced to almost nothing, that’s still plenty of time to build yourself up.  My advise would be between now and the end of November, to really focus on building your strength using resistance work, alongside some slow runs, some a bit longer, so that you can comfortably do 10 miles by the start of December. You may wish to look at Kettlebell training for runners as a way of building up your strength quickly, whilst also building your stamina.

Mental

Training for a marathon is a hard slog.  It also requires a tremendous amount of discipline.  Going out to do a 15+ mile run when it’s below freezing outside and it’s getting dark at 4pm is really really difficult.  You need true mental strength, therefore, to do this.  One thing I have done when marathon training in the past is to write down the promise I’ll make myself, which is to never miss a training session unless because of illness or injury.  Even when I’m really feeling like I can’t be bothered, I go out and start the training, because chances are, if I start I’ll finish, and if I start and still don’t feel up to finishing it after the first mile, then at least I’ll know I’ve tried when I give up.

Mindful

You need to develop a keen relationship with your body.  You need to be able to identify when problems are starting to arise so that you can fix them before they become serious.  This, to me, is the real joy of marathon training, it gives you a skill that is so useful throughout your life.  It also means that you can find solace in the act of running; it becomes meditative.

Try it now.  Lie down on the floor on your back.  Close your eyes and breath deeply.  As you continue to take long slow deep breaths, do an assessment starting at your toes.  How do they feel?  Any aches and pains?  Wiggle them about any cracks?  Now do the same for your feet, ankles.  Continue moving up your body and assessing in your mind how each part of you feels – are there any areas of aching, pain, or tightness?  Continue this with your eyes closed until you reach the top of your head.  This is a great start.  Now, next time you’re out running do the same, and no, I don’t mean lie down on the floor and close your eyes, but have a mental checklist running through your body from your head to your toes to assess how everything is ticking along.

Can you do it?

I believe anyone can run a marathon.  It can be a life changing experience, that no matter how difficult you find it, you will never regret it.  Your main challenge is to make it to the start line ready to run.  If you do that, there is every chance you’ll finish the race.

For extra help, why not check out my book

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Angela Isherwood

Angela Isherwood is the founder of I Run Success
She is a REPs Level 3 Personal Trainer, a Run England Running coach, and a multiple marathon runner. She is a London Marathon Good for Age runner, a Boston Marathon Qualifier, a parkrun Run Director and Trainer for Goodgym Colchester.

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