The Allure of a Marathon and Tips to Train For One

by Amanda VanArsdale, Certified Personal Trainer, ACSM cPT

Many marathons around the world, including the Boston Marathon, take place in April. Have you been training? With spring now in full swing, it’s time to get outside and watch the trees bloom, smell the flowers and hear the horns honking. And maybe, run a marathon!

Now is the best time of year to pick races in the area that you'd like to accomplish. Whether a 5k, 10k or ½ marathon, it’s a time to tackle that bucket list. The Boston Marathon, in particular, is one of the most premier marathons that brings people from all over the world to accomplish such a demanding, yet rewarding race. As a local to the Boston area, this time of year is incredibly inspiring. Every day, I witness so many people outside exercising – whether to simply enjoy the nice weather, strictly for their health and well-being, or striving to reach a monumental goal such as running the Boston Marathon.

Why run a marathon? Since its origins in Greece in the late 1800’s, the marathon has been considered the quintessential endurance race for runners. The first steps to taking on a race like the Boston Marathon are planning and training in advance. Training for a race of this caliber takes patience, discipline and perseverance. People decide to embark on this journey for all sorts of reasons, whether personal or not. It is a challenge to yourself, to motivate yourself, and push yourself past your limits and prove that you can go the distance.

A marathon takes a great deal of preparation. The key is building mental stamina, and motivating yourself every day to get out there. Setting the right goals are just as important as having the right reasons to run a race. Honestly, if you are simply trying to lose weight, a marathon is probably not the type of race for you; pick something smaller and reward yourself for smaller successes. Remember: the key to long-term goals are breaking them down into smaller goals.

There are many different ways to train for a marathon. The first thing to understand is that endurance training is done over time, not overnight. Training the mind is the hardest, and having the right state of mind on a training day or race day is key. There are a few simple techniques to help build mental toughness and create the proper mindset; visualization, affirmations and to “block the negative.”  In regards to the physical part of training, there are a series of different programs out there to choose. First and foremost, find your perfect stride; the right running technique can really help you go the distance. Second, do not just run; cross-training is the best way to become more efficient and stronger. Cross-training can include anything from swimming, strength training, Pilates or cycling. Third, as you gradually increase your mileage, it is just as important to nourish and hydrate your body. Finally, remember to take it one mile at a time. You can do it. You are the architect of your own destiny and your potential is endless.

Thousands of runners worldwide have succumbed to the allure of the marathon. Are you next to add one to your bucket list? If not this year, try for next – get inspired this year by your fellow runners!