Selecting your first marathon to run can be a daunting task taking all accounts into consideration. Location, timing, training, commitment, family, and seasons can all play a contributing factor to your success or challenges when running a marathon. Working closely with a running coach, personal trainer, or wellness consultant can all help you work through these factors when considering which marathon to run for your first marathon. Trainers with a career in sports nutrition can help you align your nutrition with your training. You will be amazed at how much you learn going through the experience personally and will be able to apply lessons learned to your future marathons that will help make you a smarter and stronger marathon runner.
Location is the first factor to consider. If you choose a marathon that requires travel accommodations, will that be something you will be able to commit to in the long term? If you have a high stress job, no vacation time, or are a single parent that may struggle trying to find overnight babysitting help or boarding of pets left at home, selecting a marathon out of state may end up adding more stress than excitement. Flights are sometimes delayed or canceled and trying to work out travel, babysitting, and work commitments when some of the factors are out of your control can take the fun out of running a marathon. If your hometown has a marathon, it’s best to select a hometown marathon for your first so that you will be able to train on the actual course, be familiar with the course, and not have to worry about traveling challenges. Online fitness and nutrition courses can help fill in any gaps with training programs.
Timing and training are other factors to consider when choosing your first marathon. Some marathons have a very strict cut-off time for runners. If you are not finished within the cut-off time, you are bussed to the finish line and given a DNF (did not finish) and no finishers medal. This can be devastating for new runners, especially if you have trained for six months for that one event. It can cause anxiety, depression, and may even cause you to dislike the sport entirely and not attempt another one. Wellness fitness experts can make sure you train strong to reach your fitness goals. Be sure your first marathon has a generous cut-off time (around 6 hours) so that you will not have to stress about finishing on time. The roads can only be blocked off for so long and the volunteers can only stay for so long. This is why some of the popular marathons in big cities have a strict cut-off time.
Be mindful of the temperatures you train in. If you live up north where the temperatures are cold most of the year and you select a marathon to run in the southern region in the summer, it will be difficult for you to train appropriately for that type of heat and humidity, and dehydration or heat stroke could be something that may impact your marathon finish. Train smart and utilize online fitness training software if needed. Finishing a marathon can be a life changing event – enjoy every step of your marathon journey!