Running your first marathon: Part 2

First Marathon series

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In Part One, we talked about setting your baseline, or starting point. It wasn’t to determine if you can run a marathon, but to really make sure you knew what you were getting yourself into. With all the hoopla out there and everyone telling you that in 6 minutes a day you’ll maximize your fitness, it’s important to separate marketing from truth. Deciding to take on the marathon is a serious decision and knowing what it’s going to take and realistically how long it’s going to take you is a big step in bridging that gap from where you are to the finish line.

With that said, today is about taking another assessment. Again, this isn’t to determine if you can run a marathon, but rather to show you what your strengths and weaknesses might be as a runner. It might seem trivial, but knowing this means to know what things we do in training will make you feel like you can conquer the world and what might make you second guess your decision making. Now, you can’t just put in the items of training that you enjoy (although some would argue with me), but it can help us prepare for it better. It will also help you keep the ship steady when things aren’t feeling great. Understanding the difference between struggling with a workout you weren’t designed to handle well and being overcooked can help tremendously over the course of a training plan. On top of that, being able to see progress in an area that you knew you’d have a tougher time with is a great boost in confidence as you approach race day!

In Chapter One of Hansons First Marathon: Step up to 26.2 the Hanson way, we have a second “quiz” to take. This one will take a look at what your starting strength and weaknesses will be as a marathoner. A lot of these questions will be for those who have been running for a little bit, but do the best you can. Think about other exercise you have done in the past, or sports you played. These will give you sources to provide your best answer. Score each question and tally your numbers.

Ok, so now what?

Having a score is great but having use for it is even better. How I would use this if I were coaching you is to put the right workouts in the right place, knowing what’s going to be easier for you and what’s going to cause you to struggle. For instance, say you really struggle recovering from long runs. What we can do is shift your schedule around to ensure that you have enough recovery between your long run and your next workout. Or, If you love the speed work, we will know that early pacing in longer tempo runs may cause a problem for you. Crashing and burning in a few longer marathon specific workouts isn’t a great confidence booster, so we use what we know about ourselves to really focus on pacing. It might also mean that we set up workouts differently. We can still get the work needed done, but how it looks might be different.

Knowing what your strengths and weaknesses may not seem like a big deal, but training for a marathon exploits a lot of our training weaknesses. Being prepared for that will help you be prepared for the distance. Next time, we’ll talk about my top 5 training tips for first time marathons. If you are enjoying this series, be sure to check out my book, Hansons First Marathon: Step up to 26.2 the Hansons way. There you will find the complete philosophy, training guides, and training plans for those just starting out to those who are accomplished road racers. Want more? Visit

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