How To Stay Motivated When Training For Your First Marathon

If you’re one of those people who likes a bit of challenge and a project in their life (which I can totally relate to) then you probably have tried your luck at entering the ballot for the London Marathon more than once. If you’ve absolutely set your heart on running the London Marathon, then I’ve done a post on my top tips for getting a place which you can read here.

So what happens if you get a spot to run the marathon and you are not currently one of those club runners who is already recording spectacular 5k and 10k times? What if you’re just someone who enjoys the occasional jog, going to the gym once or twice a week and generally hasn’t pushed their body to the limit for a while? How do you stay motivated to go from running 5k twice a week to running 26.2miles?

That Emily Marathon Training Motivation Fitness Blog

Set A Goal
I mean, duh, your goal is to run a marathon. However, I also mean setting mid-way goals. For example, in this month I will aim to be able to run for x-minutes without stopping, or I will aim to cover x-miles over the course of the month. Sometimes my goals are big steps up from the previous month, and sometimes if I can just feel myself getting lethargic or a bit glum about everything I cut my goals back and either keep them the same as they were for the previous month, or even drop them. Ever had a week where you just can hardly face putting on your trainers when the alarm goes off? Readjust your goals to something that feels much more manageable, rather than give up before you even attempt your bigger aims. You then absolutely smash them, and feel that motivation start flooding back toward you. It’s a good trick!

Drink Your Water
I know this sounds potentially off topic when it comes to motivation, but if I have a few days of feeling really not in the mood for running or exercise I can normally pin point a few physical things that are having an impact. One of those things tends to be not having drunk enough water over the past couple of days. When we are even a little dehydrated our bodies stop reacting how we want them to, and feelings of lethargy and irritability creep in, on top of things like headaches. If you start to notice a significant dip in motivation, try tracking your water intake and ensure you’re getting six to eight glasses of water a day. Don’t over do the water though, as that can also have negative impacts!

That Emily Marathon Training Motivation Fitness Blog

Were you one of those kids who laid out your school uniform on the floor of your room each night before bed? Even if you weren’t, you can become one now! Laying out my running gear each evening gives me a little boost in the morning to get going. For one – a well-coordinated workout outfit can have more of an impact that I might like to admit, but it also reduces the number of steps and decisions you need to make in the morning. Very rarely, and I mean VERY rarely, I have actually slept in my running gear. This is especially useful in the winter, when the outside just seems too cold and wet to bother with, if you’re halfway there already and just need to whack on some trainers and a sweatshirt then brilliant, less opportunity to make excuses!

Log Your Runs
I know people love Map My Run, and Strava but I’m a loyal Nike Running Club user. I enjoy using the Coach facility on this app, as you can put in your end goal and then your race date and the app puts together a reasonable training schedule for you to complete each week. Mine is three runs, of varying intensities and lengths, and one workout. I’ve also been completing the Briana K Fitness workouts five times a week to improve my overall strength. I don’t know about you but my upper body is shocking! Logging your runs and seeing how far you’ve come in terms of splits, length of time moving and distance covered is a big motivator and there’s nothing wrong with having a quick browse of your stats on whichever app you choose and feeling a sense of accomplishment in all the improvements you have made.

Accountability Buddy
Right now (I’m writing this during lockdown) we aren’t able to run in the ways we perhaps were before. Were you used to meeting up with a friend early in the morning and going for a run and a chat, or perhaps dragging a flatmate (or their dog!) out for a run at the weekends? These were all my big accountability buddies that I was seeing in person but currently, that’s not possible. So I’ve had to structure my accountability in different ways. I still check in with my usual running buddy and we often run whilst on the phone to each other, keeping each other motivated and chatting when we aren’t too puffed! I have also found posting parts of my workouts on Instagram a huge accountability factor for me, and it is also very satisfying to occasionally look back and see you’ve accomplished something! The key when it comes to sharing your runs and workout plans with friends is to understand it is not a competition (unless you have specifically declared it is!), and that you are both there to support and motivate each other. Marathon training is, by its very definition, not a sprint. Don’t be disheartened if someone else’s journey appears to be going better than yours, because they will undoubtedly sometimes feel the same way about you. You’re in this together, because what’s better than crossing the finish line and having a friend there to celebrate with you?

That Emily Marathon Training Motivation Fitness Blog

Follow A Training Plan
The ultimate goal with anyone trying to run a marathon is of course those 26.2miles looming up ahead of you. There is a part of your brain that will tell you, well I just need to keep running and eventually one day I will wake up and run 26.2miles and that part of your brain might just be right, if you’re incredibly lucky, but for most people a marathon training plan requires much more than just running.

Putting your body through the strains of endurance running can be risky, and so I would advise getting checked over by a medical professional if you are able to. Particularly if you have a known family history of cardiovascular problems. On top of that, you then need to make sure that your body is strong enough to handle pounding the pavement for hours on end, week after week. This isn’t just a one off event after all, this is months of strenuous activity. Therefore, adding in strength training to your plan is incredibly useful. I would also advise mixing in some yoga, and making sure you stretch properly after each run to maximise recovery. If you’re deep in the psyche of marathon training it can be hard to even consider a rest day, and if you’ve lost motivation then you may feel like if you take one rest day then you’ll give up. However, have a little faith in your own will power. Rest days can be immensely helpful in both physical and mental recovery and give you the energy you need to get back to it the next day.

You can do it. It takes patience, determination and a heck of a lot of sweat but you’ll get there. Keep going. x

2 thoughts on “How To Stay Motivated When Training For Your First Marathon

  1. Some really good tips here, I’m only just wanting to get in to running so i’ll be using these tips, not sure i’ll be running a marathon anytime soon though haha!

    1. Oh for sure these tips can be used for any distance! Just showing up and taking that first step is always such a big boost for me whenever I’m feeling a bit bleh about it!

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