I gradually worked my way up. I ran a 5K first, then a few 10K's, then I did a 1/2 marathon. My experience from running that race gave me the confidence to run a full marathon in October of that year.
The only real advice I can give you is to do what you are comfortable with. The marathon is a daunting race, and it helped me to have a half under my belt before I decided to take the leap.
If you have sufficient training miles, @ 30 a week, you should be able to build up to a marathon no problem. Follow one of the beginner's programs and they will get you ready for the race.
Trust in yourself, what you feel and what you think, that is the only real source of whether you are ready or not for a full marathon.
If you are looking to run a great time the first time out and would be embarssed to finish over say 5:00 hrs then you should probably wait.
A lot of it depends with what you personally hope to gain from the experience. If you aren't concerned about your time and just want to run to finish and bask in the glory of having accomplished a tremendous feat, then nearly anybody can do it if they make the time committment to do the training. However, be forewarned that there are no easy programs for training for a marathon. Running long for 16, 18, 20 miles is no easy task and if you don't have a very good base you leave yourself open for injury and may never make it to the starting line.
Only you can answer this question. Personally, training for a marathon forces me to run solidly for at least 4-6 months straight and then therefore, allows me to keep adding miles to my base...which I believe will payoff at all distances in another year or 2. I wouldn't be as disciplined to stick through a plan and put in the miles if I was only running 5 or 10k races. So, I've used marathon miles to build my base...now I'm used to running 40-50 miles per week...I don't think I'd ever have gotten there if I weren't training for a marathon...what I decide to do with this base in the future, well that remains open...part of me wants to see how 'fast' I can get running shorter distances while another part of me loves the agony of running long and being rewarded on race day by being part of the 'celebration' that you experience with the other runners and fans that I've only experienced while running the marathon.
But that is me, you need to figure out what is right for you! .I'd run the half and save the full for when you can build up to it more slowly.
i had some years under my belt before i decided to go all the way
i picked a marathon and then planned an entire year of training just about everyday planned out, and trained my dupa off for the year
that was 10 years ago
now there is so much more as far as nutrition and training and the internet also.
give your self some time
fall in love with running first, get some longer races (up to a half) under your belt, then decide. it is a big commitment in physical, emotional and psycho. also get the okay of your family
Thanks for the input! In case you're curious, I'm doing the half , I know I'm not ready to do the full at this point. I have run off and on for 11 years and pretty consistently over the last 4. I probably would have tried for the full had I not gotten injured last fall, but it kind of turned my whole year of training since then on its ear. I also believe (from friends who've run impressive marathons and from reading) that its a year long process of building up mileage and getting to 35-45 mpw with plenty o' LONG runs. I wouldn't want to do it with less than that because I would feel like I hadn't done as well as I potentially could have.
Really I just posed this question not for me personally but out of curiosity, just because I see other people who seem at my level (or less training) who are going for the full out experience, which is great, as you all have said its sort of a personal thing. I just wondered what you amongst us (most of whom I consider to be very well trained serious runners) had experienced.
I'll keep you posted on how the half goes!
Cheryl--I had been running for many years before attempting the marathon. I just never really considered doing one. But I found myself doing track workouts with people that were focused on longer distances so I was doing longer and longer workouts. It was about the same time that I joined kick and the discussions were surrounded by marathons. So I would have to say I was influenced by others. I ran a 1/2 and it was hard! I then trained specifically for the 1/2 distance and ran 10 minutes faster and found that my time was actually competitive and it was so easy!!! So I decided the marathon couldn't be too bad----but I was only going to do it once--so I had to make it a good one. I'm training for #8 and I still hoping it will be my last. I think I got suck into a distance that I don't particularly like. I run them because I really think I haven't done what I'm capable of.
....but I thinks it's the unknown....you never know what is going to happen in a marathon. You can be in the best shape of your life and turn in a personal worst time or believe you're in mediocre shape and turn in a damn good time. This doesn't happen even at the 1/2 distance. In a half, you get out what you put in.
I have been running for 24 years now, and did my first marathon only about 9 years ago. The reason I finally decided to do one was I needed motivation to get back in shape after having my third child, and I figured a marathon was the best way for me to do it! I had raced everything from a mile to half thon before and knew I was ready to move up to a marathon. I have now done 9 marathons and I am still searching for the perfect training program.
I think you made a good decision to do the half, since you had an injury in the past year. Doing the half will be a great way to see how you hold up to the distance and will help you decide if you are ready for a full thon.
Good luck with your training, and remember to have fun! :D
I agree with what everyone has posted: It's a daunting task, it's a personal thing, and most importantly, it's something you have to be ready to do.
Good luck in your half and let us know the scoop.