Are you currently injured?
This one should be obvious, but surprisingly many people ignore it. If you're currently in pain or suffering from an aggravation or injury, ramping up your training in preparation for running a marathon is ill-advised.
If you're suffering pain that makes walking uncomfortable (let alone running), it's likely time to back off on the running rather than increase your running workload. A long run of two to three hours will almost certainly exacerbate anything that is ailing you.
While mental toughness and the ability to persevere is requisite if you want to run a marathon, using common sense is equally as important if you want to arrive at the starting line healthy. Make sure you are healthy before embarking on your journey.
Does the increased risk of aggravation/injury give you pause?
Again, the marathon is a distance not to be taken lightly. You tend to see more aggravations and injuries associated with training for the marathon than 5Ks, 10Ks, or half marathons.
Additionally, the severity of the injuries tends to be more pronounced. Stress fractures, plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, shin splints, and a host of other issues can arise.
The right training, maintenance of your body, correct running biomechanics and form, proper nutrition/hydration can all help stave off aggravations/injuries. But, even covering all of this doesn't mean you'll be exempt aggravation or injury.
It's often the case that the best marathoners on the planet do nothing but run. They may very well have a team of resources to take care of them. They may not have a day (or night) job. Even these rare individuals fall prey to aggravation and injury sometimes.
One can train for and complete a marathon and circumnavigate aggravations/injuries. But, recognize there is increased risk. If you're struggling to avoid aggravations and injuries for the half marathon, going after 26.2 miles right now might not be the best idea.
If the potential increased risk of aggravation and injury doesn't give you pause, the marathon awaits.
Do you really want this?
The majority of this article has been largely focused on a few key practical things to consider before training for a marathon. All of these items are relevant and should be considered.
The final thing to consider is a bit more personal. In short, do you really want this? Even if the answer to all of the above items is a resolute yes, there are no guarantees.
So, I've addressed some of the risks, but what of the potential rewards? Assuming the stars align and you not only complete your training, but also complete the marathon, you will be a fundamentally changed person. You may discover the marathon is one of the most life affirming experiences you've ever had.
You may find yourself immediately wanting to run another marathon or at least embracing the idea of running as a significant part of your life moving forward. If you ever doubted your status as a runner, those doubts should be dispelled permanently.
The realization that you are now part of a small segment of the population that has run 26.2 miles may make other formerly impossible challenges and goals seem less daunting. The experience of conquering a marathon may wash over into other areas of your life.
Answering the question of whether or not you really want this is ultimately the most important of all the questions I've posed because completing a marathon requires more heart than legs at the end of the day. Make sure your heart is in this journey.Sign up for your next race.