I’ve Signed Up For A Marathon, Now What?

TORONTO July 29th. Digital Champion Andie Clement will be participating in her fourth STWM (second time doing the full) and her fifth marathon in total. Overly passionate about growing the run community in Toronto, Andie is pumped to be a Digital Champion this year. This past year Andie achieved one of her biggest dreams by qualifying and running in the 2013 Boston Marathon. An unforgettable experience, she already can’t wait to go back again in 2014. Connect with Andie on Twitter @AndieTheFitGeek and on her blog.

I’ve Signed Up For A Marathon, Now What? By Andie Clement.

The first step is to sign up for the marathon! If you haven’t done that yet, head over to the registration page for STWM and register for the marathon! Once you’ve clicked “register”, feel free to brag on Facebook and Twitter to me @AndieTheFitGeek and @RunCRS and make sure to use the hashtag #STWM so everyone knows you’re running! Now that the fun part is over, it’s time to get down to business.

Setting A Goal

If this is your first marathon, your goal may be “To just finish!” If so, it’s still beneficial to set a time goal. Goals help set the tone for your training program and can provide a guideline for the pace you need to be working towards. A time goal doesn’t have to be concrete and can change throughout the duration of your training program depending on unanticipated injuries or faster progress.

During a race, sometimes things go well and something they don’t. It’s important to have a “Plan B” on hand if things don’t work out as well as you’d hoped. Set two goals for your race: the first is a slightly more aggressive goal that can be chased if you’re feeling good and the weather is on your side. This should be a time that you would be over the moon estatic to finish in. The second goal should be your “Plan B” in case things aren’t going as planned.

Remember, all goals should be realistic to your capabilities, but still aggressive enough that you have to work to achieve success.

Training Program

Typical training programs range in time from 12-18 weeks for a half marathon and 16-20 weeks for a full marathon. For more experienced runners with a stronger baseline, training programs can be on the shorter side. If this is your first race, or your first foray into a longer distance, you should increase your training time. You can view some Online Training Schedules for STWM from the Running Room here.

One of the most common questions about marathon training is “Should I be running the full 42.2k in training?” The answer might surprise you, but it is “no!” Personally, I’ve never run more than 37k in training. Running that far is hard on your body and the last 5-10k of a marathon is often a mental game. Adrenaline and positive self-talk is what will get you through that last (often agonizing) stretch.

Andie (green shirt) crossing the finish line at the 2013 Boston Marathon.

On a weekly basis, longer distances such as half-marathons and marathons require 4-6 runs per week. Your training program should incorporate a variety of easy runs, speed training, hill work, and one long run per week. It’s important to take your long runs at a slower tempo than your planned race pace. Speed work and hill training are when you can focus on improving your pace.  There are training plans available online, clinics such as the ones at the Running Room, and personal coaches you can hire to help guide you along the way.

Taking your training seriously is a big commitment, but can also be extremely rewarding.

Track Your Progress

It’s important to keep track of your progress so you can look back and see your improvement over time. You can do this by simply writing down your time and mileage in your agenda or training log or you can log your stats online using a free tool like Daily Mile or Map My Run. Both these online services allow you to map out running routes and record your workouts. Map My Run is also great for finding pre-mapped run routes (searchable by neighbourhood and distance) submitted by other members.

Another tool I personally find useful is printing out my marathon training plan and adding it to my fridge. Having a visual that I see everyday acts as motivation to stay on track. I check off each training session as I complete it, and if I notice a pattern of empty boxes (missed workouts) emerging, I know it’s time to re-evaluate my training program and seek out some support from friends to get my butt in gear and back on track!

If you’re nervous about embarking on a training program on your own, consider joining a local run club or teaming up with a friend. There are several great running groups around the city and the Running Room provides group-training programs for runners of all abilities and free group runs Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings!

Remember, race day is a celebration of all your hard work. There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line after months of dedicated training. It’s your victory lap. Enjoy it!

How many times have you run a marathon? Will this be your first time at STWM or are you coming back for another year?

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2 Responses to I’ve Signed Up For A Marathon, Now What?

  1. Nicole says:

    This will be my first time running the STWM! But, I’m doing the half not full. Baby steps. I’ve wanted to complete this goal for a few years and an thrilled to finally be embarking on a training plan to get read for race day. Thanks for the tips Angie! I would love to know your advice on nutrition during the training process, and proper pre-race nutrition.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    This is my first full marathon and my training is going well, but I’m actually nervous about race day. Being from a small northern village, I’m not part of a running group, so showing up to a crowd is daunting. I’ve read pacers will help and that people can run in groups according to their pace (my finish time goal is 4:20). Any advice to calm my jitters?

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