How exactly does one commit to run a marathon?
A better question is, how do people begin running in the first place? It seems like an impossible task to some, even though 507,600 Americans completed a marathon in 2016.
Paul Carmona, a running coach for the REVEL Race Series, said someone needs to begin running “just for the sake of running, not for any other reason.”
However, runners will tell you running is easier said than done.
Carmona joined Let’s Get Moving with Maria to discuss how to become a successful long distance runner. He outlined three steps beginning and experienced runners should take if they would like finally like to cross “running a marathon” off their bucket list.
Number one: Determine your level
For beginners, this may seem like a no brainer. There’s a good chance you can’t run around the block without wheezing or stopping for a break. And that’s okay, Carmona says. Without prior knowledge of running, it’s difficult to understand what level you are. Paul Carmona lays out some basic ways to decide what level of running is best fitted for your lifestyle.
When determining the kind of runner you want to be, “identify your schedule and be realistic,” said Carmona. “Look at your limitations and what time of day you would like to run.”
Limitations include work, children, family duties, etc.
“You have to be realistic on a number of levels,” said Carmona.
The goal isn’t to run every day. In fact, it’s better not to run every day (even for experienced runners!), he added.
Here’s the goal: to run for 30 minutes nonstop and comfortably.
“Once you can run two to three miles comfortably, you’re ready to take it to the next level,” Carmona advised.
Start small with your running goals. It’s not a race… yet.
Number two: Make a marathon plan
One of the worst things a runner can do, according to Carmona, is to give up too quickly. At first, you’ll want to give up because your body hurts and then your brain will make a switch to where running feels amazing and freeing. You just need a starting point and that comes with making a plan.
Planning ahead will help keep your goals on track. New runners should be aware that it could take them “10 to 12 weeks to run for 30 minutes nonstop,” said Carmona.
Breaking the 30 minutes into two 15-minute runs will drastically help, advised Carmona.
The first long-distance run shouldn’t be a marathon, it should be more along the lines of a 5k (3.1-mile race).
For advanced runners who want to run a marathon or any kind of long distance, “you need to plan ahead,” said Carmona.
A half marathon consists of 12-16 weeks of training, and a marathon should be 16-24 weeks of training.
Carmona stresses advanced runners “need to put training on their calendars.”
Experienced runners need to “gradually stairstep their mileage,” said Carmona. Some weeks you will run more miles than others, and that’s preferred.
Number three: consistency
“Consistency over the right period of time is the number one most important thing,” said Carmona to KSL NewsRadio host Maria Shilaos.
How do you stay consistent and hold yourself accountable?
For beginning runners, consistency is where they “feel the most lost and need guidance from a coach or experienced runner,” notes Carmona.
Of course, new runners have questions such as “How long do I run for?” and “Do I need to run every day?”
The answer to these questions is up to the runner. No one can force another to remain physically active, Carmona said. It’s a mind-over-matter kind of activity. However, Carmona advises that running can’t be anything other than a hobby. If you’re using running as an “escape or to lose weight” you’re not going to continue running warned Carmona.
A common misconception is runners need to run ‘x’ amount of miles every day. The truth is, you should be adding distance weekly.
“Some people take it too far and make running a lifestyle,” said Carmona.
Running too hard is a way to break consistency that halts the practice altogether, he warned.
Make sure to pace yourself and recognize your limits. Injury is one of the most common reasons to halt your progress, according to Carmona. His advice? Take care of yourself as you begin your running journey!