When is the best time to run a marathon? It’s a surprisingly popular question. Runners want to know what they can do to make a PR a little more attainable, so if that means using the calendar and betting on good weather or probability of flaking out, they’ll do it. To answer the question of the best time to run a marathon, there are a few ways to look at it.
The best time to run a marathon is a personal question. The best for me will not be the best for you. But here is now I determine when I’m ready for a marathon.
Do you feel physically ready to start training for a marathon?
If you have recently been injured, literally just had a baby, or are a brand new runner, I would suggest building up a good aerobic base first. Get to the point where you’re regularly running 15 miles a week with at least 5-6 miles at a time. I felt my best when I was running a cross training a few times a week and doing a ten mile run Saturday morning. For me, that felt like a great place to start.
Are you mentally ready to start training for a marathon?
This is kind of an interesting question. I sometimes run my best when I am running to overcome a difficult emotional period. It seems this is true for many runners. I’ve heard of people marathonning their way through a divorce or bad breakup, loss of a friend or family member, or even through foreclosure. Still, you need a certain amount of brain space to think about training and to stay motivated (and sane). If you don’t think you’re at a point where you can mentally prepare for marathon training, don’t jump in just yet.
Is the upcoming season your preferred running season?
I ran my first marathon in the fall. The summer that year wasn’t too hot, and I didn’t have any kids so I could wake up well-rested whenever the hell I wanted to and go for a run. I stuck to early morning runs when it was cooler, shady routes, and took time to plan water and pee stops. That would not work for me now. My toddler is an early bird, I’m always exhausted, and I can’t get up any earlier or else I will die. This winter, however, I’m thinking I might be able to make it work. I like running in the snow and cold because the cold air feels energizing to me. I can gear-up no problem and do some long runs in the cold. At the same time, I can’t take my son in the jogging stroller, so I’d have to be ready to run inside all week. If you have a weather preference, make sure you’re thinking about it (and being realistic) when you’re planning your marathon training.
Do you flake certain times of the year?
Some people love resolutions and can stay motivated for the spring. Others like to stay active in the summer. Will you flake over the holidays and skip long runs or workouts? Is spring the busy time of year for you at work and you won’t have the energy to run? Look ahead on the calendar and think about some of these things that might tank your training.
Have you picked your perfect race?
There are lots of factors that go into picking your perfect race (like 5 Ways to Pick Your First Marathon). If you go through this list of figuring out the best time to run a marathon, that will probably narrow down your choices for races to run. After all, if you determine May is your perfect marathon month, then you’ll have to check something like Running in the USA to find a great race that fits your criteria.
Do you have any other tips for when is the best time to run a marathon? I keep going through this list and find that now is not the right time, but I am dying to do another one!