6 myths about running a marathon

Have you heard any good marathon myths?  I had, and they gave me plenty of reasons to think that marathoners were crazy.   I’d like to set the record straight, so you won’t worry about those same myths.

You can prevent most running related injuries

Courtesy of Tavis Ford

Myth #1: Marathoning wreaks havoc on your body.

Truth:  Marathoners do experience running related injuries, but most are minor (chafing, blisters and soreness) and preventable. 

In more extreme cases, the injury could require physical therapy and if it persists, surgery.  Proper equipment, training, and common sense all aid in injury prevention.  Also, distance running has many benefits including cardiovascular and mental health.  My verdict: the benefits far outweigh the risks.

 Note: I will cover injuries and treatment in detail in a later series of posts. 

Myth #2: Training for a marathon will take over your life.

Truth:  Average estimated running time (assuming 12 minute pace) is less than 4.8 hours a week*

My job kept me non-stop busy, so I had no idea how I would pull off training for a marathon.  It wasn’t as bad as I thought.  My schedule consisted of three short runs (3-7 miles) during the week and one long run each weekend (5-20 miles).  Also, closer to the race, there were about six weeks where one of the mid-week runs was longer (8-10 miles instead of 6-7 miles).

That being said, my longer runs tired me out.  I stayed in most Friday nights, so it was easier to get up early for long runs on Saturday (summers are hot in Texas).  Net-net my routine slowed down for about 24 hours a week – not too shabby in exchange for running a marathon.

*Based on average weekly mileage from Hal Higdon Novice Supreme training program and 12:00 per mile pace (slower than 10:28 median pace for 40-45 year old females running the 2011 New York City Marathon).
Note:  The Kick-Start Guide covers details on how to create a plan that fits your lifestyle.


Myth #3: Only super skinny people can be marathoners.

Truth:  Marathoners come in all shapes and sizes.

Jared the Subway guy, Al Roker and Oprah have all completed marathons!  So can you, even if you’re overweight.  Will you be setting speed records?  No.  Can you finish the race?  Absolutely!  Be honest with yourself about your baseline fitness.  You will need a plan that starts where you are now (i.e. how many miles can you walk or run without stopping).  Regardless, being slim is not mandatory for marathon training!

 Note:  The Kick-Start Guide covers details on how to create a plan that fits your fitness level.


Myth #4: It’s impossible to get accepted into the marathon.

Truth:  You can get in to most marathons by running for a charity.

Most marathons just require registration.  A few have a qualifying time or a bib lottery.  The good news is that you can run most any marathon (even Boston and New York) for charity and receive guaranteed entry.  There’s a hitch – you will have to raise a set amount of funding for that charity.  But come on, you are going to run 26.2 miles.  Is helping a worthy cause really going to stop you?  I don’t think so.  Moreover, running for charity is great motivation to stay with it (more on that in the next blog post)!

Myth #5: You need a coach.

Truth:  Having a coach is helpful, but not necessary

Finding the time and a coach can be tough (though some charity marathon programs provide team coaches – another benefit to running for charity).  That’s where Marathon Essentials comes in.  I distill and deliver the latest training tips and share real life experiences of beginner runners.  Grab the information when and where you need it, making it easier to train with a busy lifestyle.

You don't have to give up alcohol while training for a marathon

Courtesy of Tim Dobson

Myth #6: You have to give up all of the good stuff while training

 Truth:  Nope! 

I know of runners (including professionals) who drink alcohol the night before the race (I wouldn’t).  Some races even hand out alcohol on the course.  Plenty of runners drink coffee or soda pre-race.  Ultra-runners go as far as eating pizza and fries while running the race (ouch).  Pick your poison, in all likelihood, you don’t HAVE to give it up while training.  Go easy, but the bottom line is that you’re doing this for fun, so it needs to be tolerable!

I hope I have busted a few myths that may have concerned you about running a marathon.  With a few hours a week, a good schedule, and common sense, you CAN train for a marathon.

What do you think?  Is the marathon only for crazies or does it intrigue you?  Leave me a comment letting me know what you think.  If you are intrigued, click on this link to request the free Kick-Start Guide to DIY Marathon Training when it launches.




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