Running a marathon isn’t a fun experience, but it is an awesome one. If you’ve witnessed the strange cocktail of torture and triumph that passes over a runner’s face as they cross a finish line, perhaps you’ve found yourself curious about what it feels like to pound out the final steps of your own 26.2 mile vision quest.

The good news is that regardless of how much running experience you have, you can complete your first full marathon less than a year from now. (This is, perhaps, the bad news, too.) Late summer is an ideal time to begin marathon training, as you will set yourself up to complete your most challenging runs in the winter, when you won’t have to contend with stifling heat. Whenever you find yourself reading this, though, the time to start working is, as always, now.

Here’s how to turn your marathon curiosity into a medal on your wall. And don’t worry: you won’t even have to give up cannabis in the process.

Choose a Race, And Actually Register For It

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Seriously, do this first. Of course, you can begin training without actually being officially registered, but forking over the hundred or so bucks it costs to willingly torture yourself will naturally lead you to take training more seriously. It will also give you a hard deadline, and leave you much less likely to throw in the towel after your first tough run.

When choosing a race, make sure you read its reviews ahead of time, and opt for one that isn’t hilly or at high altitude.

Cut Back On Smoking

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Cannabis is a wonderful tool that many runners use for things like pain management, focus, and motivation. But I’ve found that smoking anything right before a run impacts my endurance and makes me feel thirstier faster.

If smoking is your preferred method of cannabis delivery, acquaint yourself with other types of cannabis products, such as these OLO sublingual strips I recently wrote about, which take effect in about 15 minutes, and are available in an “Active” variety that’s formulated for working out.


Invest in the Right Pair of Shoes

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Before you get serious about running, it is imperative that you get even more serious about finding the right shoes. Attempting to do long runs in the sneakers you bought because you like the color and style is a great way to earn yourself a very chic set of blisters, missing toenails, and even knee and hip injuries.

There is no one “best pair of shoes,” so finding the right pair will mean a visit to your local running store, where a salesperson will analyze your gait and the shape of your foot. The right shoe for you will help correct any harmful tendencies you might have, and make running much less painful. Your feet will also swell to about a half size bigger on long runs, so make sure you walk out with something that’s sized up from what you wear in street shoes.

Devise a Training Schedule

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Figure out how many weeks out you are from your race, and use that timeframe to Google suggested schedules for a beginner’s marathon: 20 weeks, for example. Schedules like this one from Runner’s World are a great foundation for you to start with, but can certainly be adjusted to accommodate your own schedule.

A good training schedule should have one day a week reserved for long runs (which will increase in mileage as you get closer to the marathon, before tapering down in the weeks before the race.) Two to three of the other days of the week should be reserved for short runs, two days for cross-training workouts like cycling, hiking, or yoga, and the day after your long run should always be a day off for recovery. Input your schedule into your day-to-day calendar, and if you need to skip a run, make sure you reschedule it for a different day.

Find a Place That You Love To Run

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Training for a marathon means running more than you ever have in your life. The way to trick yourself into sticking with it is to make each session be something of a treat. Find a place within twenty minutes of your house that you truly love spending time outdoors, and make that your go-to spot.

It may seem like a bit of a hassle to drive for your run rather than just jogging around your neighborhood, but finding a path where you feel happy and unplugged will help you look forward to runs. You’ll also have an easier time focusing and keeping a positive mindset if you have plenty of natural scenery to zone out to.

Outdoor runs are also another great reason to incorporate cannabis into your regime. Cannabis can help heighten your senses, making you more attuned to things like the smell of the pine trees or the color of a nearby creek.

Make A Bunch Of Playlists

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Keep yourself engaged and excited by making some playlists of songs that make you happy while running. Again, consuming a little pre-run cannabis can help in this department since combining music and marijuana can bring about feelings of euphoria.

Though fast-paced house music and rap can make for a great workout soundtrack, slotting in songs that just make you smile can be a good way to keep you in the right headspace. Some slower, more acoustic songs will also naturally slow you down a bit, and allow you to focus more on breath, form, and having some kind of a mantra as you run.

Experimenting with playlists on training runs is also a good way to figure out what songs you’ll want to listen to on the big day. You may be surprised to learn that your favorite club jam actually annoys you on runs, while that cheesy ballad you liked in 8th grade really gets you going.

With a little creativity and cannabis; and a lot of guts and focus, you’ll soon find yourself on the other end of that finish line.