As with many things in life, the true value isn’t found in the destination, but the journey getting there. Running a marathon is this belief personified. While completing a marathon is definitely an accomplishment, it’s just an endpoint. Your health improvement along the way is an even more important victory.

This journey can seem daunting, especially if you’re a senior citizen. It may comfort you to know that you’d be walking a well-worn path. More seniors than ever before are not only entering marathons, but excelling at them! With planning and the right attitude, you too can join the ranks of older marathoners!

As with any health change in your life, always consult your doctor before starting a routine. While these tips are safe, your doctor will know you well enough to gauge what is safest for you. Ultimately, that’s what’s important. Getting healthy is good, but being safe and getting healthy is great.

Get Into a Schedule

The real work starts months before the actual marathon. That’s why the first step to preparing for a marathon is planning a workout schedule. Unless you’re already in marathon shape (in which case you don’t need this article!), you need to work your way into that level of fitness. The best way to do that is with a program or planned-out schedule.

There are several ways to choose this schedule. Your doctor may be able to give you suggestions on safe ways to get fitter, but this is rarely their specialty. Still, it’s always worth discussing your fitness plans with a doctor first. If you’re serious about getting into shape, and don’t mind spending a bit, you can look into finding a running coach. They will build your schedule to align with your goals. Many areas have multiple certified running coaches, so it can be easy to find one that you like.

There are many online training guides that can be useful as a base for a marathon training schedule.

If you don’t like the idea of paying for a coach, you can also try to plan your own schedule. There are many online training guides that can be useful as a base for a marathon training schedule. There are two general tips for building a schedule that you should follow. First, build in rest days. It may seem counterintuitive to take a day off, but recovery helps you perform better and prevents injuries and burnout. Second, start small and work your way to marathon fitness. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and if you try to run 20 miles after only a week of exercise, you’ll exhaust and possibly hurt yourself.

There’s More to the Run Than Just Running

While you’re training up for the marathon, you’ll need to look beyond just exercise. A healthy runner’s diet will not only help you achieve more, but also keep you from moving backward. If you’re running a mile or two a day, but eating poorly, you’ll just be undoing all your hard work. If you wanted your car to run properly, you wouldn’t use low-quality fuel, right? Your body is the same way. A healthier diet with carbohydrates and lean proteins, while avoiding fast food and chips, will help ensure you keep the progress you’ve made.

If you’re running a mile or two a day, but eating poorly, you’ll just be undoing all your hard work

At the same time, make sure you’re rehydrating regularly through your training and race day. If you’re dehydrated, you can’t perform to the height of your ability. As you sweat out, you’ll continue to lose hydration, which can be deadly. Know the symptoms of dehydration, and make sure you’re drinking water.

Be Flexible

Flexibility doesn’t just mean you should be able to touch your toes or do a full split (though stretching is important). It means being willing to budge a little bit when the circumstances call for it. It means listening to your body. While training, if you’re feeling sore, take a break. If you do get hurt pushing yourself, you’ll miss more exercise recovering than you would have by taking a break. Was that extra mile really worth it in the end?

If you do get hurt pushing yourself, you’ll miss more exercise recovering than you would have by taking a break.

You should also be flexible with your goals. If the time comes and you don’t think you’re ready for a full marathon, you can always do a half marathon, 10k, or 5k. In many cases, it may be smart to start small. Remember, training for a marathon is about the journey, not just the finish. If the marathon rolls around and you’re not up to the level you want to be, there’s always another marathon.

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The important thing is you’re getting healthier. If you’ve followed our tips, you’re not only fitter, but living a healthier lifestyle. Completing the marathon is just the icing on the cake.