Stand on the sideline of the next marathon in your city and watch the runners go by. What was your first reaction? Did everyone running look like an athlete? Probably not. All shapes and sizes run marathons, just because you can run a marathon, doesn’t mean you necessarily should.
Running that far is hard on your body, and the training leading up to a marathon can be draining if you aren’t fully committed. The repetition of running is tough on your knees and joints and refueling after your long runs isn’t an opportunity to eat whatever you want. There are a lot of sucessful marathon runners who are able to train right, but there are a lot of poeple who are hurting their bodies more by trying to attempt 26.2 miles without properly preparing first.
Why You Shouldn’t Run a Marathon
1. You don’t have time to cross train
Repetitive running will cause strain on your knees and joints. You will be running over 30 miles a week and in addition to this you need to find time to work in a day of cross training and still maintain a strength training routine to build muscle in order to prevent running injuries.
Most runners I work with are GREAT runners and are able to do most things in the forward motion, but as soon as I have them doing lateral movements they fail. This increases your risk of injury because as your quads strengthen from running, your hamstrings and lateral muscles weaken. Save your body the stress of injury and cross train during your marathon training!
2. You don’t nourish your body or refuel correctly
Just because you are burning a thousand extra calories, doesn’t mean you can fill up on pizza and beer and consider that OK “because you ran 10 miles”. Nutrition plays a critical role in keeping your body functioning at its top performance. Eating right will help you train better, delay fatigue and help your body recover faster after a run. If you aren’t eating right, you shouldn’t be putting your body through the strain of excessive running.
3. You want to lose weight
Wanting to lose weight isn’t a reason to run a marathon.
The harder you train, the hungrier you will get, and if you are going to recover properly you need to give your muscles the nutrients they need to recover. If you are sacrificing your recovery for a fewer calories, you aren’t planning for the long term or treating your body right.
Although running does burn more calories than most activities, your weight while training for a marathon can be affected by how much water you drink, the extra muscle you gain etc. So gauging your progress solely on the number on the scale is not sustainable or the right way to train for a marathon.
4. You don’t drink water
Dehydration starts days before the race. During a marathon you are losing a lot of water through sweat every hour. The rule of thumb is you should weigh yourself before your run, and drink enough water to where you weigh the same post run. Practice your hydration strategy during your training runs and keep it consistent on the day of the marathon, no need to try anything new.
There is of course the worry of drinking too much water and suffering from hyponatremia, cuased by overhydrating while exercising dilutes your sodium levels.
5. You care too much about your social life
Running a marathon is a quick way to kill your social life. Your long runs are usually on Saturday or Sunday morning before the sun comes out, so that means you are in bed by 10 pm in order to get enough sleep to have energy for a 12 mile run the next AM. Your alcohol intake drops drastically because for the 6 months plus of training you are focused on staying hydrated, not dehydrated. You can ignore this point and tell yourself you can maintain your normal schedule along with running 30+ miles and cross training and eating healthy, but your body will suffer from it.
6. You hate running
Ok, this seems dumb to add to my list – but a lot of people hate running, and still want to run a marathon. I know, I don’t get it either. If you hate running, I want you to understand that running a marathon is A LOT of running. It is daily running. So make sure it’s something you love to do, because you will be doing plenty of it!
7. You don’t take care of your feet
Marathon training is hundreds of miles put on your shoes. Go to a good shoe store, I use to go to Fleet Feet in Chicago and get your gait tested on the treadmill. Let them measure the angle your foot hits the ground compared to your knee and analyze if you are a pronator or not. These details start to matter when you are running constantly. Find a pair of running shoes that you love and put money into them. Your feet are worth the added expense!
Ever since my marathon in 2010 I have bought the same brand and style of shoe, they fit my feet perfectly. Also, make sure you replace them accordingly. Give yourself 500 miles and after that, invest in new shoes!
Running a marathon has become something people want to say they did. I get it. I did it. I wanted to know what my clients went through with training and eating, so I ran the Chicago marathon in 2010. Even as a trainer, I admit I didn’t re-fuel after my long runs properly, I didn’t strength train as regularly, so I lost most of my muscle and overall I didn’t feel that my body was at my best.
That was my opinion, you might have your own. But if you are going to run a marathon make sure it’s for the right reasons and make sure that you are taking care of your body in the best way possible.