If you’ve ever considered running a marathon without training, you are either very brave or not really aware of the impact such physical effort could have on your body. Running a marathon needs to be preceded by a longer-term preparation process, which entails various stages, so unless you are sure you can do it, it’s not a good idea to try this out on your own.
Some of those who are thinking about trying to run a marathon might not be sure what this entire experience is all about. Of course, depending on your overall physical condition, you could try to complete one without previous training, but you would put an immense amount of stress on your body, and this is definitely not recommended.
Therefore, before anything else, it’s important to understand what it means to properly train for a marathon, and then assess if you are willing to make the effort in order to achieve this goal. It’s also good to keep in mind that running has plenty of health benefits, so even if you don’t run a marathon, you will stay in much better shape if you simply start running.
A Few Words on Training
The first thing you should know about training to run a marathon is that this process tends to look different from runner to runner. Before anything else, if you are not in the best shape, you want to pay a visit to your doctor and make sure that everything is ok and that there are no health risks if you start running every day, given that this puts some pressure on your joints, for instance.
Once this is done, you will have to find your pace. Some people are comfortable training only three days a week, while for others it’s better to run almost every day. This all depends on your fitness level, on any medical conditions, and of course, on how much time you have available in order to run.
Therefore, you shouldn’t feel bad if you only run three times a week and slowly progress toward longer distances. As long as you are comfortable with a longer schedule and at a certain pace, you are doing excellent. The most important part of this entire process is to look after your health and make sure that everything works out fine.
Also, keep in mind that you shouldn’t compare yourself to other runners, as tempting as this may be, nor to all sorts of people uploading content online. The internet is a vast place where everyone can post anything, but this doesn’t mean that the advice or content being shared are actually good for you, so don’t stress over it.
Your body is the one that’s able to tell you if things are going well with your training process or not. In case you are already used to doing some sports, such as swimming or cycling, you are probably going to have an easier time trying to run a marathon and getting ready for it. But if you’ve only started working out, be patient and give yourself time to get better and fitter.
Why You Should Train
Some might think that running is not actually such a big deal and that completing a marathon without training can be a fun challenge. However, just like with everything else in life, it’s crucial to keep a balance and give your body a chance to adjust to this level of physical stress.
If you are not particularly used to running, then trying to complete a marathon all of a sudden is probably not going to end very well for you. What you want to do is to give your joints, muscles, and ligaments the chance to gradually become stronger in order to be able to handle this challenge.
Otherwise, there’s a very high chance that your body will go into shock on the day of the marathon. It’s true that things are not the same if you are already used to running, but you are trying to recover from an injury. In this case, you want to go through a specific recovery process that should be established with your doctor.
The good news is that, even if you are recovering from a previous injury, with the right treatment and recovery process, you will most probably be able to run again.
How Much Should One Train?
Training for a marathon is a process that takes several months, depending on how fit and used to running you already are. For instance, someone who is just giving it a try for the first time should take somewhere between 16 to 20 weeks in order to get in shape. Those who are already familiar with running and are fairly fit need around 10 weeks to get ready.
Being consistent is also very important when you train. You want to run every week at least three times, and you should focus on both recovery runs and distance in order to get your body ready for a marathon. As a general rule, you need to be able to run for a total time of three hours straight once the marathon day is approaching.
Of course, if you are sick and cannot train, it’s not the end of the world, you can simply skip a day, but the important part is not to have this become a habit, and by the time the marathon is just around the corner you are still not in the right shape.
What Happens If You Don’t Train
If you choose not to train, things are definitely not going to be easy. You can maybe try to run a half marathon, but you shouldn’t really attempt to go for a full one and complete it. The explanation is quite simple, the body tends to break down after around 13 miles, so even with training, you will still need to work with your mind as well to push past the comfort zone.
Those who are used to running marathons know that they need to calibrate their food and water intake as well in order to be in the best shape possible when the day comes. If you don’t do this, and you don’t really have a strategy, you risk dealing with some serious stomach pain, overall body pain, a major crash, and overall misery.
This level of physical activity requires effort, time, and, most of all, dedication. If you don’t have these behind your purpose, then you could simply enjoy a regular running schedule and stay in good shape, but without attempting to run a marathon.
It’s important to note that there are some other consequences to not training, which are much more serious, such as stress fractures, muscle strains, or long-term joint damage. You could easily end up going to the hospital if you make your body go through that.
During the race, you also want to pay close attention to your water intake, as there are some serious conditions associated with drinking too many liquids, the most serious outcome being potential death. This is something that you want to research and understand before signing up for the upcoming marathon.
It’s important to understand that this race is something that requires careful planning and shouldn’t be taken lightly. While it’s a great overall process, keep in mind that we’re talking about a long-term one, so give yourself time to get ready.
When to Run a Marathon
If you are training, but you are fatigued, injured, or sick all the time, you may want to take a step back and reassess whether you should attempt to run the marathon or postpone your registration for the next one. It’s important to hit the mileage targets and keep a rigorous training schedule.
Of course, you shouldn’t overdo it either, since this could mean you could injure yourself in the process, and then you surely won’t be able to face the challenge. If you are not feeling ready, the smart thing to do is always postpone the race and sign up for a later one that gives you more time to get ready.
No personal challenge is worth the associated risk, especially when running is such a pleasant activity that millions of people around the world enjoy every day. If you attempt to complete a marathon without prior training, you will end up being so miserable that you won’t ever want to give running a try again, which is a pity for this, otherwise, great workout.
On the other hand, with the proper training schedule and enough time beforehand, completing a marathon is a great experience that can teach you a lot about your own physical and mental limitations and how to surpass them.
So if you’ve already made up your mind that you’re going to give it a try, then make sure that you do it properly and that you enjoy it from the beginning until the end, which also means that the post-marathon recovery period really shouldn’t be neglected.