Ready to take on a longer distance?

Movin’ On Up: Four questions to ask yourself when you are thinking of graduating to a longer distance

So you have a couple of 10Ks under your belt and you can feel the swagger building up. Is now the time to challenge yourself with a half marathon? Maybe you have done a few half marathons and the fear at the start line is beginning to lessen. Are you ready to fight for the full marathon?

Questioning the capabilities of your distance is a great sign that you are progressing as a runner and looking for a new way to challenge yourself. Congratulations! Thinking that you might be ready is a great sign that you actually are ready. Taking the opportunity to push yourself and try something new is an awesome way to find out what you’re made of. So should you do it? Here are a few questions to ask yourself to see if you’ve got the right stuff.

Are you starting from a strong place?

If you are starting to train for a full marathon, you probably should be currently running 20 to 40 minutes at least four or five times a week comfortably in order to start the process; for a half you probably want to be able to handle 90 minutes on a long run. If you start to attack a big goal from an unprepared place you may end up disappointed with the results.   Also consider whether your body is healthy overall: if you are battling a reoccurring injury or another limiting condition it may come in opposition to your finish line goals. Talk with the person you have been working on your injury with (doctor, physio or athletic therapist etc.) to ensure that they feel you can handle it.

Do you have the time to fully commit to your goal?

Training for a full marathon takes 18 weeks of serious dedication; a half will take you 16 weeks.  Your training will likely take on average an hour of dedicated time every day between running your mileage, cross training and strength training days. Your long run will take hours out of your weekend, so you will have to be on board with that.  Have a good think about all of your current commitments work, home and otherwise as they will constantly fight for your time.

Am I willing to properly support my training efforts?

Training for a higher mileage event is about more than just putting rubber to the road. If you aren’t willing to give yourself over to the process fully you are likely not going to get the results you want on race day. Eating properly, watching your alcohol consumption, and getting plenty of rest are all required to optimize your efforts. If you aren’t going to do it right, you might want to think twice.

Do I have the guts?

Marathon and half marathon training takes big balls: it is going to get hard, it’s going to hurt. You are going to doubt yourself and your crazy hair-brained decision to do this in the first place. Training gets hard. Your bed will try to call your name more loudly than your running shoes on many mornings. That extra beer or cheeseburger is going to tell you that they will make you happier than the salad and protein shake. Are you going to have the guts to stand up for your finish line? Remember that it’s going to take a lot to get you there, and nobody is going to do the work for you.

If you can answer yes to at least three of these questions, you are probably ready to give it a shot. You may not be sure that you have what it takes, but if you are building on a strong foundation and you have good support from friends and family you are well positioned to do it. Stretch yourself out of your comfort zone and see what you can do. Reaching for a new goal is exciting and scary but also awesome. Jump in and chose your next start line: I guarantee you’ll find that you are capable of more than you ever thought you were.

United Way Winnipeg