Do you dream of running a marathon? Don’t underestimate the challenge and achievement of running 26.2 miles – it takes a lot of commitment. Whether you plan to do an organised race next year or a virtual challenge you should give it some serious thought first. Here’s six things you should ask yourself before you sign up…

No matter how experienced you are as a runner or whether you’re aiming for a sub-three hour or sub five-hour marathon, there is one thing that unites you with other runners… the challenge of wanting to complete a marathon. With more people doing more challenges like multiple marathons and even ultras, it’s easy to assume that a marathon is an easy feat.

However, it’s still a considerable distance and not to be underestimated. If the furthest you’ve run so far is 10K, then a marathon is four times longer and then some. Respect the distance.

1. Does it hurt?

Everyone’s heard of the phrase ‘no pain, no gain’. Every runner will tell you that running is sometimes painful – and there’s no denying that the marathon is right up there in the pain stakes. The trick is to minimise the pain by laying down a firm foundation of consistent training.

2. Will I make it?

The answer is a resounding yes if you have trained hard and done your best to stick to a consistent training plan. If you have paced yourself correctly and believe you can do it, then you should be able to go the distance. That said, injuries can occur if you overdo it or if you don’t have the right shoes or training plan, so make sure you get the right footwear and also ensure you follow a structured training plan. You don’t want to overtrain but at the same time, you have to be prepared to put the training hours in to get results.

3. What if I’m nervous?

The thought of running 26.2 miles is bound to make anyone nervous. Nerves are completely natural. They are a sign that you are taking your marathon challenge seriously. So long as you aren’t crippled by nerves, a healthy dose of the jitters will serve you well on race day and get the adrenaline pumping around your body.

4. Will I enjoy it?

The marathon is an experience like no other. Thousands of spectators will cheer you on, helping to propel you to the finish. Many people say they’ll never run another one when they first cross the finish line… only to sign up again a month later or even on the same day of their marathon! However, if you are planning on doing a virtual marathon, you won’t have that crowd support and you’ll need to have a lot of mental strength to keep yourself going when you start to fatigue.

5. Am I truly committed to running a marathon?

Marathon training requires commitment. It’s not just physically demanding – it can also place a strain on your family life and social life. Whatever your running pace or time ambitions, you will need to commit to training at least three times a week and doing some strength work and cross-training on non-run days. Your family will need to support you and understand your reasons for wanting to do it.

6. Am I prepared to plan ahead and get organised?

You will need to organise and plan your routine so that you know when you are going to fit in your training and ensure that you still have enough time and energy to meet your work and family commitments. It’s important to be organised and plan when you’re going to train and when you’ll have your rest days.