Considering training for your first marathon? I understand the daunting feeling of signing your name up for the first 26.2 miles of your running career. You may have even heard some of these myths from friends, family or co-workers and you’re here to see if the myths are true?
… spoiler, they’re not!
Myth 1: Not everyone can run a marathon.
Wait a minute, Fauja Singh is the oldest marathon runner in the world, and he didn’t take up running until he was 89. Running his first marathon when he turned 90 and has continued until he turned 100 years old (he is now 111!) his personal best time for 26.2 miles was 5 hours and 40 minutes.
Maybe you haven’t heard of the world record for the slowest time in the Olympic marathon? Shizo Kanakuri finished the race after 54 years, 8 months, 6 days, 5 hours and 32 minutes.
Perhaps you remember the runner attempting the London marathon in the 1940s scuba kit? The last person to complete the race, but he raised £100,000 for the charity Cancer and Leukaemia In Childhood.
I think you get my point? Marathons are for everyone. You don’t have to be the quickest, a certain age or even BE a runner. You see, the cut-off times for the full 26.2 miles are generous, we’re talking 8 hours for the iconic London marathon – that’s equivalent to 18-minute miles, and also most everyone can walk that.
Myth 2: size is everything
Hmm, What do you mean by smaller? Shorter runners have a higher cadence, which is directly linked to somewhat less ‘effort’ whilst also covering ground quicker. And many people train to shorten their stride for this reason. However, you find tall runners with longer stride lengths obviously cover more ground per stride. A runner with a ½ inch longer stride than you will finish approximately 380 years ahead of you. But size really isn’t everything.
If, however, you meant body shape (thinner, leaner physiques) then perhaps so, at the peak of the elite sport. But look anywhere around, and you’ll find runners of all shapes and sizes – even pregnant ones!
As it is so for any physical challenge, carrying extra weight can affect a runner’s overall time but it certainly won’t stop anyone from competing, assuming, of course, you have trained properly.
Myth 3: You have to 86 the alcohol when training for a marathon
Okay so the effect of alcohol on athletic performance isn’t great, yet you will find most running clubs, race events and running socials will involve a good old beer.
Everything in moderation is pretty key here, I mean alcohol doesn’t HAVE to be avoided completely, but just be smart with it – 7 calories per gram of alcohol, so a bottle of wine is roughly 700 (empty) calories. It can contribute to the extra weight that could slow you down, but also think about how much that affects your body’s dehydration, recovery and sleep
When I train for my ultra-marathons, I never consume any alcohol before a long run or race. It makes zero sense to me, to feel dehydrated and groggy when I have countless hours of running to complete. But that doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy a cheeky G&T after a tough gym day to unwind.
Myth 4: You need to run more hours than you work
I love this one because most people I talk to are shocked when I tell them how little time it takes to train for a marathon. Most plans are 12 weeks long for a marathon, and that is often 3-4 days a week – but of course, this all depends on your own needs, every single runner is different and should prepare their bodies for the 26.2 miles however they see fit.
Ideally, the minimum mileage covered per week is around 30 miles a week to build a solid aerobic base and to make sure you’re injury-free for race day, and more if you can tolerate it. But you most certainly do not need to be out running every single lunchtime, at 6 am every day or for hours and hours on a Sunday. Which Incidentally leads me to my next myth…
Myth 5: You have to put a pause on life whilst in training
Do you feel like you have to put everything else on hold whilst you train for a marathon? Yes it’s a big feat you’ve signed up for, and you will change throughout your time out there training, but it’s no fun if training dominates your life.
The key to success, anywhere, is flexibility and fluidity. Manage your training AROUND your lifestyle. AROUND your school runs, work hours and socials. If you cannot contemplate getting up at 5 am for a gym session or a run (1. I don’t blame you, 2. I don’t do it either) then don’t!
Honestly, it’s important to look forward to training, and enjoying it or you will never stick to it (like that New Years’ resolution).
For example: Usually, long runs are on Sundays, and that might fit the majority. Mine? They’re on Mondays because our weekends are chock-a-block full of sporting or social events, so I work from home on Mondays and commit to my longer runs then – I even look forward to the Monday wind-downs.
Don’t stop there, there are 5 more myths we need to bust for you – is running actually bad for you? Can you train whilst pregnant? Stay tuned.