Every so often I have been asked, "Do you think I would be able to run a marathon?"
Usually I say, "Yes anyone can run a marathon".
Although there's a lot of pain in the preparation. And time, and sacrifice.
If you have never run a marathon, but feel it is something you need to do, here are a few hints off the top of my head to indicate how to go about it.
1. Do you want to run a fast time?
Then to do yourself justice you need to build up your strength in training over many years, keeping up your natural speed while gradually extended the frequency and length of your training runs. Continue this for some years until you can run 600 kms per month while continuing to improve at short races, particularly 5 kms and 10 kms. Then ease off training and race the marathon, throwing caution to the winds by running evenly at a very fast pace to the half way mark and seeing if you can kick on from there.
After a fast marathon race take a month to recover before you revert to full speed training and racing again over shorter distances. And maybe only one or two marathons a year should be raced.
2. Or do you want to complete the distance whatever the time?
Then slow yourself right down and start running longer and longer in training, until you can run at least 300 kms comfortably per month without any trouble. Then you could run a marathon, but remember to run at a very conservative pace.
After such a marathon, ease back into the training again, noting that your preparation should have ensured you can get back into the long-easy routine within a few days. Don't attempt another marathon run though until you are well and truly ready.
And don't expect to excel over shorter distances.
3. Do you fall somewhere in between? Or are you unsure which category is you?
Then talk it through with your coach before making any long term decisions.
"Anyone can run a marathon". Perhaps. Not something to be taken lightly, though.
Edit: This article HAS been published in the August Vetrunner after all. So I WILL be saying this more than once.