Feeling inspired by last week's Boston Marathon? Motivated by the upcoming swimsuit season to run just a little bit farther?
If the marathon bug has finally nipped at your heels, spurring you to action, here are four tips to help select your first marathon and ensure it's a memorable experience.
Location: Should you race near home or select a destination race?
- Local races mean sleeping in your own bed, no travel stress, and eating your regular foods.
- Local races also mean knowing the course and exactly how far you have left (for better or worse).
- Destination races mean seeing new sights and immersing yourself in the race atmosphere of something new and exciting.
- Destination races mean more logistical planning, which can add to overall stress.
Support: What kind of support will improve your experience?
- Including your closest friends and family in this experience can make it that much sweeter.
- Have you selected a race that will make a great vacation for them or allow them to easily spectate?
- Can you train with a local group to ensure you have others on the course with you come race day?
- Will the roar of a crowd help keep you moving? Or do you prefer to stay in your zone uninterrupted?
Course: Which course will give you the best results?
- Will you have similar training terrain? For instance, training for a race that happens in the mountains is much harder when you live at sea level.
- Course elevation charts will help you determine the amount of hill training needed.
- Race reviews will help you find courses that are more scenic, challenging, or unique.
- During training, do you like running loops, out and back, or point to point? Choose a race with your preferred running style.
Timeline: How to know when you are ready to run a marathon?
- If your current long run is a 5K, select a race at least 24 weeks in the future.
- If your current long run is a 10K, select a race at least 20 weeks in the future.
- If your current long run is a 13.1, select a race at least 16 weeks in the future.
- Evaluate other major life events; it's not ideal to be planning a wedding or studying for major exams during training.