Last night on The Biggest Loser, contestants ran a full marathon. It's pretty amazing that most of them went from obese and sedentary to marathon finisher in just months. If you were inspired from last night's The Biggest Loser marathon like we were, you might be thinking about running a marathon yourself. But before you sign up for that 26.2-mile race, here are five things you need to know before training for and running your first marathon.
What to Know Before Signing Up for a Marathon
1. Training is long and hard. Training for a full 26.2-mile race is no joke. Most marathon training plans last four to six months and suggest that you run three to six times a week, gradually building your mileage up week by week. It's not uncommon to spend a Saturday or Sunday running 15 or more miles when marathon training, so the time commitment and mental challenge (running for that long can be tedious) is definitely something to be aware of and prepared for.
2. You have to ease into running long distances. The Biggest Loser contestants may have gone from couch to marathon in a few months, but that's just not realistic for most people. Running long distances is hard on the body, and doing too much too soon can result in injury. If you're set on running a marathon, first set a goal to train and run a 5K, then a 10K and then a half marathon. Before you even begin thinking of training for your first marathon, you should be able to comfortably run 3 or more miles and have been doing so regularly for months.
3. You may not lose weight. While some people do lose weight when marathon training, some don't. In fact, some people gain weight! With all of the running you're doing, your hunger ramps up big time, so it's easy to eat more than you're burning off. The best mindset for running a marathon is doing it because you really want to, not just to lose weight.
4. It can get expensive. Between having the right running apparel (once you chafe, you realize how important this is) to replacing your shoes every 300 to 500 miles to marathon-entry fees (usually $100 or more), the costs add up!
5. It's an incredible experience. Despite all of these things, you should definitely know that running your first marathon is a life-changing experience you probably won't regret. There's just nothing quite like earning that finisher's medal to make you realize that, yes, you can do anything.
Have you run a marathon? Want to run one? Tell us about it!
Jennipher Walters is the CEO and co-founder of the healthy living websites FitBottomedGirls.com and FitBottomedMamas.com. A certified personal trainer, lifestyle and weight management coach and group exercise instructor, she also holds an MA in health journalism and regularly writes about all things fitness and wellness for various online publications.