So You Wanna Jump Headlong Into The Marathon? Don’t!
Happy 2013! With the start of the new year, I’m sure some of you may be considering finally (yes, finally!) throwing away the pack of cigarettes away for good, ditching the excuses and start heading down the road to fitness. Good on ya! Anytime’s a good time to start!
The end of the year and the beginning of the new one is also usually the time when I receive emails from non-runners and beginners who want to run the marathon. Since my replies over the years have nearly always been the same, I thought it’ll be a great idea if I posted the typical email that I get along with my reply. In the example below, the email was received before the end of the year. Naturally I’ve altered the identity of the sender.
I am very keen to participate in your beginner’s running program. I am 40 years old and honestly have never run before. Is it too late for me to join in? My goal is to participate in a marathon middle of next year. I hope I could do that. I appreciate your guidance on how should I start.
And here’s my typical reply.
Congrats on taking up running! A marathon is 42km (a 10km run is not a marathon) and while that’s a good goal to have, perhaps a better one (considering you’ve not ran before) right now would be asking yourself WHY you want to run. It’s a perfectly good reason just to run for health reasons and to maintain an active lifestyle. It doesn’t have to do with races. If you’re the type to seek challenges, then progression over the years would be a better approach. I’ve been running since the ’80s and I’ve seen my fair share of friends who started out with a gung-ho attitude but ended up injured only to never run again. Which is a shame because there’s perhaps no other sport out there that’s so accessible and fulfilling than running (I’m biased ). Get going 3-4 times a week of easy mix of run/walk for 20 minutes each time and once you’re able to run non-stop for 20 minutes, then perhaps a 5K fun run would be a good target to shoot for. In our experience if one is able to maintain the discipline of running 4 times a week for 4 months, chances are you’ll stay a runner for a long time. And if the bug remains 4 months down the road, then you can start to explore greater challenges like moving up to the 10K. Do note that the effort to run a marathon does not equate to running 2 half marathons (21K). It’s exponentially harder mentally and physically. It’s not just a matter of twice the distance.
Remember there’s no pressure to ever run a marathon. Take it slowly and don’t put the cart before the horse, and you’ll be amply rewarded by increased fitness and positive mindset after just a few months of consistent activity. Just take it gradually.
RunnersMalaysia have a weekly Saturday group run at the Lake Gardens. Never too late to join us. No fees, no attendance taken, all personal will driven. You can also join our Facebook page – just search for RunnersMalaysia.
I maintain a very active blog on running since 2001 at jamiepang.com/blog, so please visit there for tips and to stay in touch. See you soon and all the best for the New Year!
P/s. If you’re good to go and ready to get on with your plans, what’s next? Sounds like you need to go shopping!